Australian casino operator Crown Resorts has suspended all activity with junket operators until June 30 2021 while it undertakes a comprehensive review of its processes related to junket operators.
The move follows the September 2020 public hearing of the inquiry established by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is ongoing. Crown also said that a recruitment process has commenced for the newly created role of Head of Compliance and Financial Crimes which will report directly to the Board.
When giving evidence at the hearing, Crown’s Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director, Ken Barton confirmed that senior management had been unaware of large cash deposits and transfers being made in junket rooms located within its own casino at Crown Melbourne.
Judge Patricia Bergin subsequently slammed Crown’s internal AML controls as a ‘debacle.’
Naomi Sharp, working for the counsel assisting the inquiry, accused Crown of turning ‘a blind eye to the prospect of money laundering taking place’ asked.
This related to the Suncity cash desk, whioch Crown eventually after it discovered $5.6m of cash stored in a cupboard in March 2018. Anti-money laundering officer Joshua Preston said he was alarmed that this didn’t set ‘money-laundering alarms ringing.’
Judge Bergin said: “The irresistible conclusion is that nothing works. This went on for years. This went on from ’13, ’14, ’15, ’16 through to ’19 and nobody – and now Mr Barton is seeing things for the first time in this inquiry. This, in effect, has really reached the debacle level. It is very, very troubling. I mean, Mr Barton has made a lot of concessions but at the moment it is just extraordinarily troubling.”
Crown’s VIP program play business in Melbourne and Perth has contributed approximately seven per cent of Crown’s Normalised EBITDA over the last five years. Crown intends to progressively open the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort on or around 14 December 2020. Once fully operational, it is intended that gaming operations at Crown Sydney will comprise a total of 30 table games across 12 private gaming salons within the tower and 129 table games and 66 electronic table game terminals within two distinct gaming rooms within the podium, which also contain six gaming salons.
Caption: Crown’s soon-to-open VIP casino in Sydney