Australia’s financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC has expanded its investigation into The Star Entertainment Group, according to an update provided by the company on Friday.
AUSTRAC’s investigation, first announced in June 2021 and also encompassing fellow casino operators Crown Resorts and SkyCity Entertainment Group, relates to concerns around ongoing customer due diligence requirements and the adopting and maintaining of an AML/CTF Program at The Star Sydney and SkyCity Adelaide.
Media reports in October also alleged Star Entertainment Group had mirrored Crown by enabling suspected money laundering, organized crime, fraud and foreign interference by cultivating high-roller gamblers with links to organized crime while ignoring red flags over the source of client funds.
Star denied the allegations at the time, stating it was “concerned by a number of assertions within the media reports that it considers misleading.”
However, the company revealed Friday that it has now been advised by AUSTRAC that the watchdog has expanded the scope of its investigation to include “other entities” within The Star group.
“AUSTRAC has advised that it has not made a decision regarding the appropriate regulatory response that it may apply to The Star, including whether or not enforcement action will be taken,” Star said.
“AUSTRAC has advised that it will request information and documents from The Star as part of its investigation.
“The Star takes its anti-money laundering obligations very seriously and will fully co-operate with AUSTRAC in relation to its requests for information and documents, and the investigation.”
Star is already facing a series of public hearings by the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority (ILGA) this March as part of a regular review into The Star Sydney and whether it remains suitable to hold a casino licence.
The regular review into The Star Sydney had begun in September but after October’s media reports aired ILGA issued a statement claiming it was “in the public’s interest to hold public hearings on matters including but not limited to The Star’s maintenance and administration of systems to counter money laundering and infiltration by organised crime.” A publicly available report will be due to be handed to ILGA by 30 June 2022.
An inquiry into fellow casino operator Crown Resorts conducted in late 2020 following similar media allegations ultimately found Crown unsuitable to retain its NSW casino license for Crown Sydney, although the company and ILGA have been working together to address issues of concern. Crown recently stated it hopes to open the casino at Crown Sydney in early 2022.