One of Australia’s most popular casino operators, Crown Resorts, is again in the public eye for the wrong reasons.
The casino operator is the subject of a money-laundering probe after whistleblowers revealed a couple of Crown Resorts bank accounts had been used for laundering money.
Bypassing the Internal AML Supervision
Crown Casino has an internal anti-money-laundering (AML) body that supervises all of its bank accounts.
However, during the on-going Crown investigation, two additional bank accounts were hidden from authorities. These unsupervised accounts were held at ANZ and Commonwealth banks and were used by the casino’s VIPs.
The company hasn’t revealed why these bank accounts weren’t supervised and reported or why they were shut down only after financial institutions discovered them. They suspected Crown used the accounts to launder money.
The bank accounts were held by two shell companies, Riverbank and Southbank Investments, but both were traced back to Crown Resorts.
Prominent Crown VIPs used unsupervised accounts as early as 2013 and probably even before that. They made deposits and went to the casino to gamble using the offshore account money.
All high-risk money transactions need to be reported to the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). However, that cannot be done if the accounts aren’t monitored.
Busy PR Department
To say that the Crown’s PR department has been kept busy for the past year or so would be an understatement. They’ve had to put a positive spin on a handful of charges and allegations directed towards the company. But making any of the allegations palatable is easier said than done.
Trouble started when James Packer, former executive chairman, jumped ship a couple of years ago.
Reports flooding in ranged from allegations that Crown casino staff tampered pokies to maintaining relationships with junket operators tied to the triads and mafia in Asia.
The casino was aware of all of this and still failed to act. They even knew that a known war criminal was frequenting their casino and always let him gamble whenever their mafia-tied junket partner flew him in.
License and a $2-billion Project are on the Line
As the allegations continue to mount, it is not inconceivable to think that Crown may be stripped off its casino license. Using unreported bank accounts to launder money is a good enough reason for a casino license to be revoked, and the Crown officials know this.
Revoking Crowns License puts a huge question mark over the casino’s $2-billion NSW project to complicate things even further.
Crown is competing with Star to build the biggest and most luxurious casino resort in Australia. And if crowns license is stripped, the New South Wales project will face an uncertain future.
The company has long been able to get away with only a slap on the wrist for their misdemeanours, but there’s this feeling crown may be in for something bigger and more dangerous this time.
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