An investigation has found that the National Australia Bank (NAB) was seriously misled by a senior manager of the Australian gambling and entertainment giant Star Entertainment Group about a controversial credit card that high-roller customers used at the gambling venues of the company.
As Casino Guardian already reported, the gambling regulatory body of the state of New South Wales (NSW) has started an investigation of whether criminal activity, such as money laundering, has managed to infiltrate The Star Sydney and whether the company is suitable to keep its casino operating licence.
Earlier this week, Paulinka Dudek, who is responsible for compliance and risk management on the bank accounts of The Star Group, admitted that the gambling and entertainment giant misled the National Australia Bank about the use of a “China Union Pay” card at its premises.
The inquiry learned that in 2019, the Chinese financial services firm China Union shared concern that its cards were being used at the venues of The Star Entertainment to pay for suspicious gambling transactions worth a lot of money that violated its rules. At the time. The financial services company addressed NAB and shared its concerns, with the bank then getting in contact with the casino company.
In one email response, Ms Dudek said that the “China Union Pay” card was used to pay for hotel accommodation services offered by The Star, and presented an invoice featuring a hotel room number. At the time, she rejected the claims that any gambling-related payments had been made with the card.
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Paulinka Dudek has agreed with the counsel assisting the inquiry that her response back then was misleading. She, however, noted that she did not participate in putting the response to the National Australia Bank together and claimed that it was provided to her by another employee of The Star Entertainment. Ms Dudek explained that she had not considered the conduct unethical at the time but still admitted that she became uncomfortable about her involvement in the matter.
The investigation found that so-called CUP cards were used to facilitate transactions worth approximately AU$900 million. The CUP terminals in the venues of The Star Group were officially put out of action two years ago, in 2020.
In her evidence to the inquiry, Ms Dudek said that her understanding of the country’s system of counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering was very basic, although she is a senior manager at the treasury department of the Australian casino operator.
Previously, the inquiry heard that claims made about the casino giant by a number of local media hubs would be directly relevant at the hearing. As Casino Guardian reported, several media outlets, including a few newspaper hubs and the 60 Minutes TV program, have accused The Star Entertainment of allowing organised crime, fraud and foreign interference at its casino venues by enabling money laundering.
The due diligence processes are now expected to become subject to further investigation, as well as the alleged links of the venue to “politically exposed” individuals. Also, the so-called junket business of the gambling and entertainment company is set to be closely examined, especially considering the fact that it has involved massive marketing efforts to attract high-roller customers, mostly from mainland China, to The Star Entertainment’s Australian casinos. So-called salons of the company, which are basically private gaming rooms, are also set to become subject to close investigation.
Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.