The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) has commenced disciplinary proceedings against Crown Melbourne Limited regarding the illegal use of China Union Pay cards, uncovered during last year’s Royal Commission.
The Royal Commission found that Crown had devised a “China Union Pay process” to evade Chinese currency restrictions and enable the illegal transfer of funds from China.
Between 2012 and 2016, wealthy Chinese patrons were assisted in illegally transferring up to AU$160 million (US$122 million) in funds that were disguised as hospitality charges but were instead used for gambling.
“[Crown Towers] hotel issued a room charge bill to the patron, falsely asserting that the hotel had provided services to the person,” the Royal Commission’s final report explained.
“The patron would pay the bill [using their China Union Pay card] and be given a voucher acknowledging receipt of funds. Then the patron, accompanied by a Crown VIP host, took the voucher to the cage and exchanged it for cash or chips.”
This amounted to a breach of Section 68 of the Casino Control Act, which prohibits Crown from providing money or gambling chips in a transaction involving a credit or debit card, and Section 124 which requires Crown to keep certain accounting records to ensure the handling of money in the Melbourne Casino is effectively supervised.
The newly formed VGCCC said Tuesday that it would take Crown’s response into account before deciding on what disciplinary action to take. Actions available include imposing a fine of up to AU$100 million (US$76 million), varying the casino licence and/or censuring Crown and directing it to take rectification steps.
“I welcome the legislative amendments which impose stronger regulatory obligations on Crown and provide the VGCCC with greater enforcement powers,” said VGCCC Chair Fran Thorn. “These powers are needed to deter Crown from engaging in the conduct that was revealed during the Royal Commission.”
“As a first step, we are acting on the Royal Commission’s findings that Crown’s China Union Pay process breached important Victorian regulatory obligations, was illegal and constituted serious misconduct.”