Investigation into Star Entertainment is widening after the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX)– listed company revealed the Australian Transaction Report and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) informed the company not only Star Syndey is under scrutiny.
Widening the Scope of Investigation
The probe launched by AUSTRAC into Star Sydney dealings in June last year is looking for any potential violations of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws, scrutinizing due diligence and laundering protection measures at the casino, covering the period between 2016 and 2019 financial years. And it is now expanding its scope to include Star’s Gold Coast and Brisbane gaming properties.
Around the same time AUSTRAC launched its investigation, the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation (OLGR) started a similar inquiry, said a spokesman for the regulator cited by Australian Financial Review.
“This work is continuing in close liaison with our regulatory partners AUSTRAC and the Queensland Police Service. The Attorney-General takes casino integrity matters very seriously.”
As the investigation is widening its scope to include the other Star casinos, AUSTRAC will be sharing its findings with Queensland’s police and the state’s gaming regulator. There is no decision if any action might be taken against the operator, though, Star told its shareholders, looking to alleviate their fears.
“AUSTRAC has advised that it will request information and documents from The Star as part of its investigation. The Star takes its anti-money laundering obligations very seriously and will fully co-operate with AUSTRAC in relation to its requests for information and documents and the investigation.”
The country’s financial watchdog refused to discuss details of ongoing matters, outlining it was collaborating with state regulators and law enforcement to combat money laundering.
Embracing Criminal Operations
Star Sydney has already been under scrutiny by the New South Wales (NSW) gaming regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), since last September, following damning revelations about Crown participation in money laundering and crime financing.
Since the regular review of Star’s NSW casino license began, reports in The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes claimed the casino operator has embraced for around seven years “criminal or foreign-influence” operations and enabled “suspected money laundering, organized crime, large-scale fraud, and foreign interference.”
According to the media investigation, Star’s board of directors was repeatedly made aware of the issues but didn’t do anything to intervene. The media reports also accused the board of ignoring a 2018 report by KPMG that was warning the company of serious failings to combat money laundering, terrorism financing, and corruption risks and its Sydney and Queensland casinos.
The board’s ignorance of these serious operational risks brought more trouble to the operator after two law firms, Maurice Blackburn and Slater and Gordon, said were preparing to launch a class-action lawsuit on behalf of Star’s investors.