The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is investigating casino operator Star Entertainment Group over suspected breaches of customer due diligence laws, which could jeopardise an AU$12bn (US$9.4bn) proposal to buy rival Crown Resorts, reports Reuters.
According to the statement released by Star Entertainment, AUSTRAC has identified several potential non-compliance cases with the Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007.
The concerns include “ongoing customer due diligence, adopting and maintaining an AML/CTF Program and compliance with Part A of that Program”, and were initially addressed by AUSTRAC in 2019, when the regulator focused on Star Sydney’s management of high-risk and politically exposed clients from 2015 to 2019.
AUSTRAC will conduct further investigation, and the Star stated it “will fully co-operate with AUSTRAC in relation to its requests for information and documents and the investigation.” The Star operates the only casino in Sidney.
The Star recently submitted a proposal to acquire Crown Resorts, another operator that is itself going through several investigations and a royal inquiry into its casino operation.
The initial report that alleged Crown’s involvement in money laundering kickstarted a series of probes to determine whether the organisation is suitable to hold gaming licences. Now AUSTRAC has widened its Crown investigation and started a formal enforcement probe into a potential breach of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing rules in Crown’s Perth casino.
The regulator is also looking into SkyCity Entertainment Group, which has a casino in Australia, suspecting the same breaches in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism rules.