NSW Inquiry: Crown AML Did Not Monitor Suspicious Bank Accounts

The public inquiry into the suitability for casino license of Crown Resorts for its new resort in Barangaroo  continued as the inquirers heard from Crown’s top legal officer casino’s anti-money laundering (AML) teams did not monitor a couple of bank accounts which have been suspected to have been used to clean dirty cash.

Previously, Crown’s chief legal officer gave evidence that AML teams in Melbourne and Perth reviewed the two accounts and would have reported any suspicious transactions to the AML regulator, AUSTRAC. Joshua Preston said that Crown was not obliged by anti-money laws to report activity above a certain amount threshold but maintained suspicious transactions would have been filed.

Using Shell Companies to Conceal Gambling Deposits

Earlier, the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) heard that both accounts were shut down by the Commonwealth and ANZ banks after these were used by Crown patrons for a number of suspicious cash transactions exceeding hundreds of thousands.

The two bank accounts in focus were owned by Southbank Investments and Riverbank Investments, shell companies of Crown Resorts, and they were used by customers for money deposits by hiding the gambling purpose behind the deposits, thus easily becoming susceptible to misuse or criminal activity.

Junkets Cannot Operate without the Triads

The inquiry then heard Steve Vickers, a former head of criminal intelligence for the Royal Hong Kong Police who now runs a corporate risk consultancy, who stated that due to the legal situation in China regarding gambling and taking cash out of the country, it was impossible to eliminate the notorious organized crime, the Triads, out of junket operations.

The former head of criminal intelligence explained that, due to the illegal status of gambling in China, the capital controls and the difficulties related to enforcing collection of gambling debts, it is almost a necessity for junkets to have people capable of exercising persuasion, coercion and even violence to collect debts stemming from losses at overseas casinos through junket credits.

Mr Vickers outlined that regulators could limit the influence of organized crime in the industry, pinpointing the approach in Singapore, where gambling regulators perform due diligence on any junket operator a casino is willing to work with.

Unlike in Singapore, the casinos in NSW and Victoria perform their own due diligence on any junket operator they are willing to have business with, following a compliance framework approved by the state gambling regulators.

During their last meeting members of the inquiry into Crown’s involvement with junket operators heard the shocking news that the casino operator abandoned its China-based teams despite sound warnings for possible arrests, which led to 19 of them being detained by Chinese authorities in 2016.

1 Comment

  • Alan Pedley
    September 5, 2020 at 11:59 am

    This information has been in the public domain via two 60 Minutes programs.

    The Crown Chairman in 2019 had stated that their AML consultant had given their AML program a “gold star” rating and AUSTRAC has not charged Crown – as it has charged TabCorp (a competitor).

    This might suggest Crown was a “honey pot” with suspicious matter reports (SMRs) being used for financial crime intelligence to AUSTRAC and on to law enforcement.

    Any other interpretation makes this story look bigger than just Crown!

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