Questions raised about cash handling practices at Crown

By Noah Taylor Updated
Crown’s willingness to ban junkets called into question at Victorian royal commission

Leaked reports from the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation in 2017 detail concerns from inspectors of cash transactions made at the casino.

The commission stating  “a lack of recording of such transactions within Crown systems” being a concern to them with whistleblower accounts found within the leaked report.

Crown Casino is obliged to report all transactions over $10,000 to Australia’s anti-money laundering authority, AUSTRAC.

A whistleblower of Crown said foreign high-rollers often fly to Australia on private jets, avoiding inspections by customs and then exchange huge amounts of cash with no trace.

“I think this is just the tip of the iceberg about what is going on at Crown. I think Crown are a law unto themselves,” the whistleblower said.

“Money is coming in illegally.

“You don’t know where [the cash] has come from, you don’t know if it’s the result of drug trafficking, of prostitution or child exploitation. You just don’t know.”

Spokesperson denies all the allegations

A Crown spokesperson responded saying there was no basis to these allegations, according to the ABC.

“Crown has a comprehensive Anti-Money Laundering (AML) and Counter-Terrorism Financing (CTF) program, which has been and continues to be subject to ongoing regulatory supervision by AUSTRAC,” the spokesperson said.

“Crown provides a range of information in a proactive manner in accordance with its regulatory obligations, including the reporting of all transactions over $10,000, international funds transfer instructions and the reporting of suspicious transactions of any value.

“Crown has a strong history of compliance with and commitment to its AML/CTF obligations and we work closely with law enforcement and regulatory agencies in support of that commitment.”

The casino is limited from disclosing the agencies in which it shares its information.

The VCGLR said as one of many regulators, agencies it works with include Victoria Police and AUSTRAC.

“If the VCGLR becomes aware of matters that fall outside of its remit, such as money laundering and criminal activity, the VCGLR has systems in place to ensure that these matters are referred to the relevant agency in a timely matter,” a spokeswoman said.

She encouraged anyone with information about alleged breaches by Crown to make a complaint.

Last year, the sixth review of Crown’s licence recommended the organisation undertake “a robust review (with external assistance)” of relevant controls to ensure that anti-money laundering risks are addressed.

The whistleblower has also taken his concerns to federal independent MP Andrew Wilkie, who is attempting to facilitate a royal commission on the gaming giant.

“There’s now huge questions for politicians to answer because there’s no way Crown would be being involved in criminal activity on that scale unless it felt it had top cover,” Mr Wilkie said.

“Any reasonable person looking at that footage would straight away draw the conclusion that there was money laundering going on and Crown must be somehow covering it up and that at least the Victorian gambling regulator is not looking into this properly.”

In 2017, it was reported by the ABC that the casino was not complying with requirements to report major transactions to AUSTRAC.

Another allegation was that Crown had tampered with poker machine buttons illegally.

The casino denied all charges but was later fined for removing buttons from a handful of its poker machines without approval.

The casino is also managing an enterprise bargaining agreement with its workers, led by their union, United Voice.

With the spring racing carnival almost in full swing, Crown Casino is expected to have an influx of local, interstate and international patrons in the coming month.

The venue serves as a major destination for both gaming and entertainment.

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