Under-fire Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd has responded to criticism of its involvement with Asian-based junket operators, insisting it has a “robust process” for vetting those it works with and constantly reviews its business partnerships.
Crown’s comments come after the government ordered an inquiry by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity following weekend media reports alleging links to Asian crime syndicates and the favorable treatment of high rollers by immigration officials.
The reports claim that a criminal syndicate referred to as “The Company” laundered money using “Crown-linked” bank accounts and junket rooms and that members of the syndicate were paid to lure high rollers to Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos. The syndicate is also said to have links to drug trafficking.
While Crown has maintained radio silence for much of the past three days, it finally issued a lengthy statement on Tuesday in which it defended its regulatory processes and relationships with junkets.
“Crown has a robust process for vetting junket operators with whom it deals and undertakes regular ongoing reviews of these operators in the light of new or additional information that comes to its attention,” it said.
“Crown has a comprehensive Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Program which is subject to regulatory supervision by AUSTRAC. Crown works closely with all of its regulatory agencies, including law enforcement, both state and federal. In this respect, Crown provides a range of information in a proactive manner consistent with its obligations, including reporting all transactions over $10,000 and suspect transactions of any value.”
Crown added that it takes its legal and regulatory responsibilities “very seriously” and would fully co-operate in any investigation.
The Australian casino giant, which runs Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth and is currently developing the AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney, has seen its VIP operations face intense scrutiny since the arrest of 19 staff for promoting gambling in mainland China in 2016.