Difficult times have come upon the Star Entertainment Group in light of the allegations of anti-money laundering (AML) failures as well as foreign interference and large-scale fraud. During a hearing on Tuesday, Paul McWilliams, Star’s former chief risk officer, revealed details on how the 2018 KPMG report was received. The audit report alleged that the company was involved in crime, fraud, foreign interference and money laundering.
Star Management Disagreed with the KPMG Report
In light of the 2018 KPMG report, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) launched a review of the operator last year in September. The probe into the Star is being led by Adam Bell SC. As a part of the review, the first public hearing was set for this month. Moreover, the final report to IGLA is expected to be submitted by June 30, 2022.
During the recent hearing, McWilliams revealed that the company’s CEO Matt Bekier as well as chairman John O’Neill disputed the findings of the KPMG report back in 2018 when it was initially handed to them. Bekier disagreed with the report saying that was “unacceptable” to be prepared in such a way.
Moreover, he claimed that the allegations of the report were simply wrong. Back in 2018, both O’Neill and Bekier were incredibly critical about the points in the report related to junkets, McWilliams revealed during the recent hearing. Additionally, he recalled a “very tense” meeting that involved the report. This led to McWilliams wondering if there was in fact an error with the report, especially after seeing Bekier’s reaction.
In a statement released back in October 2021, the Star acknowledged that it will continue to comply with the requests for information and documents in light of the ILGA review. What is more, although McWilliams left the company back in 2019, he still acknowledged that the Star was focused on resolving issues raised by the KPMG report.
The Legal Hurdles for the Company Continue, Star Sydney
Besides that probe, a separate inquiry looked into suspicious transactions for some $664.2 million allegedly completed by the Star Sydney in New South Wales (NSW). During a public hearing set by ILGA in NSW, it was revealed that Paulina Dudek, the Star Sydney’s assistant group treasurer, misled the National Australia Bank (NAB) for multiple transactions involving millions.
Overall, the investigation uncovered 156 suspicious transactions. According to gathered evidence, those transactions were related to $664.2 million (AU$900 million). Additionally, when asked about AML and counter-terrorism financing policies, Dudek revealed that there were only basic regulations in place.
The Star isn’t the only operator that fell under scrutiny recently. An investigation into the Crown Resorts’ alleged breaches of regulations and ties to illegal activities. Consequently, Crown Resorts’ NSW license was revoked last year in February.