Crown Casino, Money Laundering Misdeeds

9th November 2021

On 26 October 2021 the Victorian Royal Commission into Crown Casino in Melbourne recommended that the Casino Operator be allowed to keep its licence – albeit under a two-year grace period during which a special manager should ‘oversee the affairs of the casino operator including the casino operations’.

The ‘special manager’ is intended to oversee the correction of an ‘alarming catalogue of wrongdoing’. Commissioner Finkelstein’s report, released on Tuesday morning, found Crown’s behaviour was ‘illegal, dishonest, unethical and exploitative’. Some was so callous that it is hard to imagine it could be engaged in by such a well-known corporation.

The Victorian Royal Commission into the Casino Operator and Licence found evidence of Crown’s links to criminal gangs and repeated breaches of money laundering laws and the casino’s contract with the state. Between 2012 and 2016 it helped Chinese customers transfer up to $160 million from accounts in China to the Crown Towers Hotel for ’services’, contravening local laws and allowing money laundering to take place.

Given the very well documented use of casinos for money laundering in Australia and around the world, and the well documented links between money laundering and the facilitation of a range of crimes, the decision by the Royal Commission begs the question – What crime does a casino operator need to commit in order to have a licence cancelled?

This finding should be viewed in direct contrast to other corporate misdeeds that relate to money laundering.

Westpac was fined $1.3 billion for failing to submit reports to Australia’s financial intelligence unit. These reports are intended to assist authorities to detect money laundering and terrorist financing and the vast majority of such reports relate to legitimate transactions.

The Commonwealth Bank was fined $700 million for the late filing of 53,506 reports of transactions of $10,000 or more and failed to properly monitor transactions on 778,370 accounts to check for money-laundering red flags.

To put that in perspective, a bank that fails to submit reports that might relate to money laundering is fined somewhere between $700 million and $1.3 billion. A casino that actually commits money laundering is given a nanny for two years.

TIA have long been calling for the widening of our Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) legislation to prevent such behaviour. After putting in a submission, TIA has been called as witnesses to appear at the Senate Legal and Constitutional Affairs References Committee’s hearing for its inquiry into the adequacy and efficacy of Australia’s AML and CTF regime. We welcome this consultation process to contribute to ensuring reforms will deliver the changes Australia needs to limit criminals prospering through our businesses and professions.

We need a system overhaul.

Photo 1: Ben Lambert on Unsplash

Photo 2: Michał Parzuchowski on Unsplash