A New South Wales (NSW) inquiry into Star Entertainment’s suitability to hold a casino license was told by the company’s former CEO Matt Bekier that he felt let down by senior management.
Unmitigated Risk of Money Laundering
The royal commission-style inquiry led by Adam Bell SC was prompted by information that Star Entertainment has been accommodating at its Sydney casino questionable practices related to money laundering, organized crime, fraud, and foreign interference.
Bekier, who surprisingly resigned from his position as chief executive officer at Star Entertainment in March, started his evidence by telling the inquiry the reasons behind his decision to leave the company.
Outlining that through the information revealed by the ongoing inquiry and some inquiries of his own, he had reached the conclusion that “there was what I perceived to be a subculture around the VIP business,” a subculture that “behaved differently from the rest of the organization.”
“I thought it would be best for the company to show we need to take accountability for things that aren’t good and as CEO I was accountable and responsible for all parts of the company.”Matt Bekier, former CEO, Star Entertainment
Bekier then conceded that the casino’s conduct related to the VIP room operated by its junket partner Suncity, Salon 95, contravened the rules and regulations. All financial transactions of the casino should have gone through the establishment’s main cage, he stated. Earlier days of the inquiry heard that the Star Sydney casino allowed Sunscity to operate its own cage.
VIP Middle and Senior Management Let Down
Besides the “unmitigated” risk of money laundering posed by the illegal cage in Salon 95, Star failed in its due diligence on whether the junket operators were of good character, Bekier noted, with “significant gaps” in the assessment identified by him in the past few months.
The former chief executive of Star agreed with counsel assisting that he was completely let down by several senior management executives and when asked what went wrong, Bekier stated:
“My role as CEO was to set the strategy, implement the strategy … to keep the company within the risk appetite. I think that worked well in many respects. When it came to the VIP matters, it was a failure of the first and second line of defense.”Matt Bekier, former CEO, Star Entertainment
Asked to go into specifics, Bekier outlined that the subdivision’s middle and senior management developed a subculture in which “we did not challenge ourselves to meet the standards we would meet in other parts of the business.”
“And we didn’t flow information all the way up to the top,” he added.