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Australia – AUSTRAC and Crown agree to proposed $45m penalty

By - 30 May 2023

Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth and AUSTRAC have filed joint submissions with the Federal Court of Australia, proposing a $450m penalty over Crown’s breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF Act).

A court hearing has been set down for July 10 to 11 2023, at which Justice Lee will consider the parties’ proposed settlement. While AUSTRAC and Crown agree that a $450m penalty is appropriate in all the circumstances, it is a matter for the court to determine the appropriate penalty.

In reaching this agreement, Crown has admitted that it operated in contravention of the AML/CTF Act, including that Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth failed to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they faced, and to identify and respond to changes in risk over time.

It ruled that Crown did not have appropriate risk-based systems and controls in their AML/CTF programs to mitigate and manage the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they faced.

Crown also failed to establish an appropriate framework for Board and senior management oversight of their AML/CTF programs. It did not have a transaction monitoring program that was appropriate to the nature, size and complexity of their business.

AUSTRAC said Crown had an enhanced customer due diligence program that lacked appropriate procedures to ensure higher risk customers were subjected to extra scrutiny. It did not conduct appropriate ongoing customer due diligence on a range of specific customers who presented higher money laundering risks.

AUSTRAC Chief Executive Officer, Nicole Rose said the casino sector is at risk of exploitation by organised criminals seeking to clean their dirty money, money which criminals make through the sale of illicit drugs, scams and even human trafficking.

“Crown’s contraventions of the AML/CTF Act meant that a range of obviously high-risk practices, behaviours and customer relationships were allowed to continue unchecked for many years.” Ms Rose said

“Crown has sought to respond to the failures identified in these proceedings by enhancing its approach to ML/TF risk management and investing in its financial crime compliance. We continue to work closely with Crown to ensure that their AML/CTF program and systems are compliant and fit for purpose into the future.”

As the matter is before the court for determination, AUSTRAC is unable to comment further on the proceedings or in principle agreement.

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