Star Entertainment Ex-Boss Matt Bekier Blames Others for Company’s Failures

Posted on: May 2, 2022, 09:36h. 

Last updated on: May 2, 2022, 10:05h.

In New South Wales’ ongoing inquiry into Star Entertainment, former CEO Matt Bekier is dismissing his role in the casino operator’s mismanagement and alleged money laundering. Instead, according to him, other executives should receive all of the blame.

Mett Bekier
Mett Bekier, the former CEO of Star Entertainment in Australia. He asserts that he had virtually no knowledge of the casino operator’s failures. (Image: Bloomberg)

Matt Bekier resigned as CEO of Star Entertainment in March, but hasn’t avoided appearing in a New South Wales (NSW) inquiry. The casino operator allegedly facilitated money laundering activity and mismanaged reporting and accounting policies. It also allowed accused swindlers to gamble at its properties, and more.

Bekier was never going to avoid the hot seat during the inquiry. However, according to him, most of the problems at the company were not his fault, according to Business News Australia.

As the former Star Entertainment boss comes under scrutiny, he is revealing details about what has transpired at the company. He is now placing the blame for the company’s failures on four executives, an attempt to deflect responsibility. Bekier asserts that the executives hid information from him. He adds that, had he known, he would have taken the necessary action.

Not My Fault

Bekier is among the latest high-ranking Star executives to take the stand in front of NSW’s Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA). The regulator wants to determine if the company is still worthy of holding a casino license in the state, or if it should receive the same punishment Crown Resorts received for similar transgressions.

Several executives with the company already admitted that there had been extensive failures. They acknowledge that, perhaps, they could have done a better job. Bekier used that as part of his testimony today, asserting that he was “let down” by four executives and their actions.

If the board had known about any of these things, they would have supported me in shutting down that business a long time ago. I didn’t think the business was out of control and if I didn’t see those problems, I’m not sure the board could have seen them,” stated former Star Entertainment CEO Matt Bekier.

Specifically, chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin, corporate general counsel Oliver White, CFO Harry Theodore and chief casino officer Greg Hawkins shoulder the blame, he asserts. All four have already given testimony in the inquiry.

Bekier asserted that there was a “subculture” operating within Star’s VIP management. This, he explained, is not in line with the company’s business mantra. However, that doesn’t completely explain everything. It doesn’t explain his outburst when accounting firm KPMG tried to present him with evidence that may have highlighted the misguided activity.

A Casino Within a Casino

One of the primary issues that led to the current state of affairs at Star was the misuse and abuse of the China UnionPay card system. These cards act as debit cards for Chinese citizens, but have limitations.

The cards cannot be used for gambling purposes, a condition Star repeatedly ignored and even tried to cover up. On many occasions, The Star casino in NSW fabricated lodging receipts to hide the fact that its wealthy Chinese clients were withdrawing money for gambling purposes.

Another big issue was the “casino inside a casino.” Salon 95 is a private gaming room that Suncity Group used exclusively. There, the junket operator essentially controlled its own casino, with no oversight on the part of Star.

I picked the people and I established the processes, structures, and policies, (although) I don’t think I was personally engaged in anything that was happening under my leadership,” Matt Bekier stated.

Bekier acknowledged this during his testimony. However, he asserts that he only learned of the issues “over the past few months.” Before that, he thought The Star conducted business “appropriately” and “transparently.”

The review is going to continue, with the ILGA already having requested more time. Attempts to gloss over the issues aren’t likely to sway the regulator’s final decision, which could come at the end of August.