Australia’s Star Entertainment Group has submitted its response to a finding by the Bell inquiry that it be found unsuitable to retain its NSW casino license, calling on the newly formed NSW Independent Casino Commission to allow it to continue operating while it undertakes a comprehensive remediation plan.
Acknowledging the “gravity of the conduct which is raised in the Bell Report” – which highlighted serious failings around the illegal use of China UnionPay cards to fund gambling at The Star Sydney, Star’s dealing with Asian junket operator Suncity Group and the company’s response to independent audits of its anti-money laundering (AML) and counter terrorism financing (CTF) controls – Star said it has already taken significant remedial steps as it looks to save its license for The Star Sydney.
These, it says, have included “increased risk, compliance and security staff, approval of upgrades to surveillance technology as well as permanently exiting junkets and closing the Marquee nightclub.”
It also detailed development of a comprehensive Remediation Plan which outlines a multi-year transformation of the governance, accountability, capabilities, culture, and risk and compliance management practices of the organization.
“We intend to do whatever is necessary, in consultation with NICC, to restore The Star Sydney to suitability,” the response, signed by Executive Chairman Ben Heap, reads.
“We submit that the appropriate action NICC should take is to allow Star Entertainment Group to continue to operate the licence, under strict supervision and being held accountable to the milestones on the Remediation Plan. Achieving those milestones should give NICC confidence that Star Entertainment Group has restored suitability.”
Star’s response was issued on the same day the company announced the departure of another senior executive in interim CEO Geoff Hogg, who has long overseen the Queensland operations that are currently under the microscope of a similar ongoing inquiry in Brisbane.
Star’s response highlights such changes and particularly the creation of a number of new positions aimed at increasing risk controls and enhancing accountability across the organization.
“Beyond meeting the specific recommendations [of the Bell Report], Star Entertainment Group’s aspiration is to become a better organization and to not only live up to the standards others expect from us, but those we expect from ourselves,” it says.
“We are committed to adopting better industry practices expected for an entertainment group of Star’s stature. Star Entertainment Group is aware of the extent of change required and the effort and investment to address the Report recommendations and our thematic root causes.”