The ongoing inquiry into Star Entertainment’s operations has heard that the chief financial crime officer of Star Entertainment was not informed about the concerns that a junket operator based in Macau was fully non-compliant with an internal probe that had been started into a controversial VIP gaming room at The Star Sydney.
The investigation held into The Star Sydney casino by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has so far resulted in the exodus of the gambling operator’s CEO Matt Bekier, who has stepped down as an act of taking responsibility for the company’s transgressions. Furthermore, the ongoing probe has triggered some calls for a similar inquiry into the two Queensland-based casinos of Star Entertainment.
As previously reported by Casino Guardian, the inquiry is set to examine whether the Sydney casino of the Australian gambling giant has been infiltrated by criminal activity and whether it is no longer fit to hold its casino operating licence.
Today, the fourth week of the inquiry started, with more evidence from Skye Arnott – a chief financial crime officer at Star Entertainment – heard by the investigators. Ms Arnott faced questions about whether she was aware of an internal investigation into an exclusive high-roller customer gaming room in Star Sydney, known as Salon 95.
Suncity Breached Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Laws, Evidence Says
During the inquiry, the chief financial crime officer at the gambling operator said she was unaware of the May 2018 opinion of an investigator into Star Sydney that Suncity, a foreign junket operator, was fully non-compliant with the requests for information regarding the casino’s VIP gaming room Salon 95.
Ms Arnott was also not aware of the investigator’s opinion that the junket operator Star Entertainment partnered with at the time featured a business model that was problematic for the casino company as it violated so-called anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) legislation. According to the evidence she gave to the counsel assisting Naomi Sharp, all of this had never been made known to her at the time.
Furthermore, Star Entertainment’s chief financial crime officer was also questioned over some controversial CCTV footage taken in April 2018 inside the VIP gaming room. The footage showed a representative of Suncity, the junket operator Star Entertainment partnered with, taking bundles of cash from a black bag and then putting them under a desk in Salon 95. During the inquiry, it became clear that Ms Arnott was concerned that the cash did not come from any customer of the junket operator and was suspicious about it.
The ongoing probe also learned that Ms Arnott, who is also an ex-employee at the NSW Crime Commission, was informed about concerns regarding potential money laundering at Salon 95 on numerous occasions in 2018 and 2019. Previously, the investigators have been told that Star Entertainment permitted Suncity to operate an illegal cage inside the VIP gaming room at Star Sydney, although the junket had no authority to do so.
The operations of Suncity at The Star Sydney were brought to an end after Alvin Chau, the boss of the junket operator, was arrested in November 2021.
Previously, the investigation learned there had been no limit on the number of gambling chips, plaques and so-called non-negotiable chips which Star Sydney’s customers walked out of the casino venue. According to evidence, the questionable practice resulted in an increase in the money laundering risks.
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.