In an announcement sent to the ASX, Crown said that the financial crimes regulator, AUSTRAC, had already identified possible non-compliance with the money laundering and anti-terrorism laws, including concerns linked to adopting, complying, and maintaining counterterrorism/money-laundering financing program, and current customer due diligence.
The enforcement team of the agency has taken over the matter and has commenced a formal investigation. Australia’s gambling giant confirmed in a statement that the investigation would be focused on how Crown Melbourn had managed clients identified as “politically exposed and high-risk” persons, which might include customers that junket operators from China had brought to the casino.
Crown said it supports the probe and would corporate fully with AUSTRAC by responding to any information request throughout the process.
An AUSTRAC spokesperson has confirmed the probe into the gambling giant. The spokesperson said that the investigation being conducted on Crown is AUSTRAC’s compliance assessment, which began in September 2019. The investigation is ongoing, and the spokesperson said that AUSTRAC would not comment further. These are serious allegations that could lead to serious penalties.
The shares of Crown Melbourne had dropped by about 9.5%. The drop in its shares is thought to be connected to these allegations.
AUSTRAC Investigation Comes After NSW Inquiry
Crown has been facing other allegations earlier. The reports of the investigation by the AUSTRAC come as the Liquor and Gaming NSW Authority is nearing a close into Crown’s business practices.
The NSW probe is also probing the claims that the gambling giant was allowing money laundering to be brought by high roller bigwigs into gamble at the company’s Perth and Melbourne. Junket operators, who are suspected of bringing dirty money into gambling, have been linked with notorious organized crime elements in Asia for a long time.
Crown has stated that it will cut ties with junket operators, and it will not allow any business at and with the company until it completes reviewing its guiding principle on its use. The company said that it would be known whether they will resume dealing with private junket operators next year.
James Packer, who was the chair, told the Liquor and Gaming NSW Authority more than a week ago that casinos operating within Australia remain weak targets for intrusion by local and international organized crime organizations. It has been a bad year for Crown due to these allegations. The gambling giant has reported an 80% decline in its profits.