Crown Resorts Bank Accounts Breached AML Rules, Used by Criminals, Inquiry Hears

Posted on: September 1, 2020, 01:56h. 

Last updated on: September 2, 2020, 09:55h.

Two bank accounts controlled by Crown Resorts for the discreet use of VIP clients were not supervised by the Australian casino giant’s anti-money-laundering (AML) teams, an inquiry in Sydney has learned.

Crown Resorts
Former Hong Kong police chief Steve Vickers told the Crown Resorts inquiry that the junkets are crawling with triads. (Image:

ANZ and Commonwealth banks eventually shut down the two accounts because they suspected they were being used to launder cash.

The casino has a responsibility to alert Australia’s money laundering agency, Austrac, about any high-risk money transfers.

Bags of Cash at Crown Resorts

The inquiry is the ongoing public investigation into Crown Resort’s suitability to retain its license in the state of New South Wales, where it has long been building a $2 billion property on Sydney’s waterfront, scheduled to open this year.

But its suitability has been called into question following allegations in Australian media that it has turned a blind eye to criminal elements within the junket groups it does business with. The media also alleged that it ignored its AML responsibilities by letting high rollers gamble with sports bags full of cash.

The operator is also accused of exploiting the Australian visa system’s weaknesses to fast track into the country VIP players, including known criminals, without the appropriate checks and balances.

Crown Resorts has denied these accusations, which appeared in various newspapers and on the Nine Network’s 60 Minutes program, as an “ill-informed attempt to smear the company.”

Shell Companies 

On Tuesday, the inquiry heard that Crown Resorts held the two bank accounts through two shell companies, Southbank Investments and Riverbank Investments.

High-rolling players would use them to deposit money to gamble with, while the innocuous-sounding names of the two companies disguised the fact the money was going to a casino.

But previously, the inquiry heard that federal investigators strongly suspected drug dealers of using the accounts to bank the proceeds of crime. In 2013, federal police agents arrested an alleged Chinese money launderer who discovered depositing money into the Riverbank account.

Triad Influence 

The inquiry also heard from Steve Vickers, former head of criminal intelligence for the Royal Hong Kong Police. They testified that criminal infiltration of the junket industry in Macau was rife.

Triad activities in junkets are notorious and well-known to everybody, frankly, that knows which way is up in Macau,” he said, as reported by The Sydney Morning Herald.

The capital controls exist in China, it’s still illegal to promote gambling in China, it is difficult to enforce gambling debts in China — that’s the underlying cause as to why Triad societies are around,” Vickers continued. Junkets need “people who are tough, who are capable of exercising persuasion, of violence to collect.”

The inquiry continues.