Crown Resorts’ efforts to overhaul its internal compliance procedures have taken a significant step forward with the appointment of a new Chief Compliance and Financial Crimes Officer.
Steven Blackburn, currently Chief Financial Crime Risk Officer and Group Money Laundering Reporting Officer at National Australia Bank Ltd (NAB), will step into the newly created role at Crown on 1 March 2021, reporting directly to CEO Ken Barton and the Crown Resorts board.
His appointment follows evidence given by Barton at a NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry in September stating senior management had been unaware of large cash deposits and transfers being made in junket rooms located within its own casino at Crown Melbourne.
That evidence led presiding judge Patricia Bergin to describe Crown’s internal AML controls as a “debacle” while questioning how the Victorian gaming regulator was supposed to keep track of happenings within Crown Melbourne’s walls if its own management didn’t know.
In response, Crown had promised a review of its compliance and governance processes, including the suspension of all activity with junket operators until 1 July 2021. The company has since vowed to permanently cease any relationship with junkets unless they are approved by Australian regulators.
Announcing Blackburn’s appointment on Wednesday, Barton said his arrival was “a further significant step forward in strengthening our compliance and anti-money laundering functions. Steven is an experienced compliance executive and his substantial technical expertise and global perspectives will position him well to take a leadership role in driving further improvements through the business.”
Blackburn is described as an experienced financial crime and compliance executive who currently oversees Anti-Money Laundering, Counter-Terrorist Financing, Sanctions and Anti-Bribery & Corruption at NAB. Crown explained that Blackburn is responsible for implementation of NAB’s Financial Crime program content, including oversight of Financial Crime control activity and compliance across global operations.
He was previously AML Officer at CIBC Bank in Toronto, Canada, where he also established the bank’s Financial Crime program.