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Australia – The Star loses $1bn in value as media scrutiny turns to its money laundering failures

By - 11 October 2021

Australian casino group Star Entertainment saw its shares fall by 22.9 per cent, taking nearly $1bn off the company’s market value, following a TV report by 60 Minutes and news paper articles in The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, claiming Star allowed money laundering by organised crime at its Sydney and Gold Coast casinos.

The reports accuse the Star board’s of failing to act in 2018 on two confidential reports from KPMG detailing shortcomings in its anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing procedures. These include not investigating junket VIPs connected to Huang Xiangmo, who was kicked out of Australia in 2018 due to foreign interference concerns. The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority confirmed it will investigate the allegations.

Gaming authority chairman Philip Crawford said: “We want to get this inquiry going as quickly as possible. We will be as transparent as possible. We don’t have any evidence yet, but there are definitely some areas we’ve got concerns about.”

The Star responded by saying: “The Star Entertainment Group refers to recent media reports that included allegations against The Star. The Star is concerned by a number of assertions within the media reports that it considers misleading. There are constraints on publicly discussing specific individuals. We will take the appropriate steps to address all allegations with relevant state and federal regulators and authorities, including Mr Adam Bell SC who is undertaking a regular review of The Star Sydney in accordance with the Casino Control Act 1992 (NSW).

“Mr Bell’s review was announced by ILGA on 14 September 2021. The Star operates in a heavily regulated industry. We are subject to thorough and ongoing regulatory
oversight including compliance checks and reviews across the company’s operations in NSW and Queensland.The Star also notes the recommendations of the Bergin Inquiry, which were supported by the NSW Government on 18 August 2021. These recommendations will impact the regulation of casinos in NSW and are supported by The Star,” it added.

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