Crown Melbourne Accused of Money Laundering after a Whistleblower Posts a Shocking Video
October 22nd, 2019 5.00pm
A recently leaked video footage of alleged money laundering at the Crown Casino Melbourne has sent shockwaves throughout the Australian gaming industry.
The video in question was published by three anonymous gaming regulators, allegedly showing wrongdoings in the venue’s VIP room managed by the Macau-based Suncity.
Another Blow for Crown and Suncity
The footage itself shows stash of $50 and $100 bills unloaded from a large bag within the premises of the Melbourne casino. That’s yet another blow for both Crown and Suncity, which have been busy recently, trying to put out a number of fires.
Only a couple of months ago, Australian Channel Nine’s show “60 Minutes” made serious allegations against Crown Resorts, accusing one of the country’s largest gaming and entertainment groups of being connected to junket operators.
For those unfamiliar with this term, junket operators act as a middleman, organizing trips for players from mainland China, where gambling is not allowed. The junket operators lend players money as well, bypassing the restrictions imposed by the Chinese authorities.
According to the allegations made by the TV show, Crown simply ignored the fact the money originated from the junkets. At the same time, Crown used the loopholes in the Australian visa system to allow VIP players into Australia without the proper customs checks.
The show cited a report published by the Hong Kong Jockey Club back in 2017, informing Australian police about the involvement of Suncity CEO Alvin Chau in money-laundering activities, and linking him to the triads.
Suncity is the biggest junket operator doing business in Macau, whose operations are estimated to be worth several billion dollars. This conglomerate has diversified in the last couple of years, investing substantial funds in various casino projects.
“Sensationalized” and “Deceitful” Investigation
Responding to these allegations, Crown said the investigation conducted by the 60 Minutes had been “sensationalized” and “deceitful”, aimed at damaging the company’s reputation.
The video was taken from Crown’s security cams and was sent to Andrew Wilkie, an independent politician known for his anti-gambling position, by Victoria State gambling inspectors whose identity hasn’t been revealed.
Commenting on the footage, Wilkie explained the whistleblowers had told him they were fed up with the fact the authorities weren’t looking into illicit activities going on at the Suncity VIP room.
One whistleblower said that it was possible for anyone to simply walk into with any amount of money, and launder it. He further said it was obvious that nobody really cared, as Crown got to do whatever they wanted.
“They can bring anybody into the casino, they can bring in as much money as they like, nothing is ever said.”
According to him, the situation was more than clear: you have a substantial amount of money of an unknown origin, placed in a shopping bag. “If it was legit, why wasn’t it in the bank?”
Under the provisions of the current anti-money laundering regulations, casino staff is required to ask for proof of the source whenever there’s a transaction involving large cash transactions.
Crown Casino issued an official statement on the matter, pointing out “it had a strong history of compliance with the necessary legal and regulatory requirements”. The statement also stated the recent allegations of money laundering were unsubstantiated.
A spokesman for Crown Casino pointed out the company had a comprehensive anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) program, which had been continuously supervised by Austrac (the Australian government’s financial intelligence agency).
Last year, the review of Crown’s licence suggested that the company had undertook “a robust review” of relevant mechanisms to ensure anti-money laundering risks were dealt with.
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