New light on Queensland probe into Star

By William Brown Updated
New light on Queensland probe into Star

A Queensland investigation into embattled casino operator Star Entertainment is focusing on allegations of money laundering and the requirement that casinos exclude certain people, regulators have told a parliamentary committee.

The Age reports the hearing shed new light on the focus of the Queensland investigation.

Head of the Office of Regulatory Policy, Liquor, Gaming and Fair Trading David McKarzel, initially made reference to investigations interstate, saying the government was seeking to take “proactive action” to prevent similar problems in Queensland.

He also mentioned the potential for casino companies to obstruct investigations.

McKarzel said the Queensland Office of Liquor and Gaming Regulation, as well as the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre, continued to investigate Star.

That probe began at least eight months ago.

The Queensland investigation, combined with the lessons interstate, showed “stronger regulation is needed”, he said.

McKarzel said the Queensland investigation related to “allegations regarding matters to do with whether anti-money laundering systems were appropriate and whether or not the exclusion process was also working appropriately”.

“There are ongoing investigations into that, but they are not concluded,” he said.

A public hearing into the bill will be held in July.

Proceeds of crime deposited at Queensland and NSW casinos

A man has travelled to some of Australia’s biggest casinos with stacks of cash wrapped in rubber bands or in hidden boxes and deposited the funds, but they were from the proceeds of crime, valued at more than $1 million.

It was reported that Andre Gimenez Barbosa has pleaded guilty to dealing with proceeds of crime after Australian Federal Police launched an investigation after being alerted to his behaviour at Queensland and New South Wales casinos.

Barbosa was sentenced to six years in prison, but will be eligible for parole after serving one year.

Judge Helen Bowskill said she took into account Barbosa’s lack of other criminal history, his otherwise good character, his co-operation with detectives and his good prospects of rehabilitation.

Barbosa was arrested on December 11, 2018, after federal officers executed a search warrant.

The police investigation began in August 2018, when the AFP was alerted to large deposits being made at The Star Casino in Sydney and on the Gold Coast, as well as at Treasury Casino in Brisbane.

Funds deposited at casinos in 2018

The court heard Barbosa deposited more than $914,000 through “front money accounts” at the casinos from August 7 to November 2 in 2018.

He also travelled to New Zealand 14 times, where he deposited $90,000 at SkyCIty casino in Auckland, but transferred more than $720,000 back to his Australian accounts.

The court was told Barbosa had used his business, Max Study, which is described on Facebook as an educational agency helping international students find courses and apply for visas, as part of the offending.

The court heard he conducted his business through instant messaging apps, registered in another person’s name and set to delete messages one minute after they were sent.

During police interviews, Barbosa said he didn’t know the source of the money he was moving, but he knew those behind it were using him because they didn’t want anything officially registered.

He told detectives he thought the money was likely to be “from the wrong stuff” and he had his “suspicions always that it cannot be good money”.

He told police where he would send the money and how, and conceded he should have asked where the money came from.

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