Details of the allegations
The parliament in Australia is considering investigating Crown Resorts Ltd following reports of their casino operation being used by Asian criminal gangs to launder money. This is allegedly taking place mainly in the company’s Melbourne casinos. The reports came via national newspapers, the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. There was also a special 60-minute television program on the matter.
These reports allege that there are links between the casinos attracting high-rolling gamblers from China and junket operators with links to drug trafficker gangs in Asia. The main sources of these allegations have been kept anonymous, but they have been identified as law enforcement officials.
According to the reports, two ministers in Australia tried to speed up the immigration clearance for high rollers at Crown properties who came from overseas.
In one case, a wanted criminal allegedly jetted to Australia on a private plane, went to a casino, and was able to jet off again with no consequence. The Melbourne Crown casino in particular is being looked at for the processing of significant sums of cash.
Chinese officials have taken action against Crown Resorts Ltd before on the grounds of illegal promotion of gambling. This saw 19 former and current employees convicted of such charges in 2017. At the time, Crown Resorts denied being aware of their staff being exposed to potential convictions in the country.
Dropping share prices
After the news of the latest reports went public and trading opened, there was a 3.2% drop in the share price of Crown Resorts. Independent lawmaker Andrew Wilkie is calling on on the government to create a parliamentary committee on gambling-related issues.
This would see public hearings on any allegations and testimonies by key witnesses. Wilkie has observed that:
This has reached a point where the Australian government has to pay attention.”
Crown Resorts supposedly have wide-encompassing anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing systems in place. These are under the guidance of Austrac, the country’s financial crimes agency.
The likes of the Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation and the Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia are set to conduct investigations into these reports. Austrac is also looking into potential money laundering activities taking place through the system of casinos.
Crown Resorts responded to these reports and defended their position. Speaking about the suspicious cash transactions, they claimed: “In this respect, Crown provides a range of information in a proactive manner consistent with its regulatory obligations, including reporting all transactions over $10,000 and suspect transactions of any value.”
About Crown Resorts
As of July, the market cap for Crown Resorts was $8.6bn. In April, there was an attempt of a takeover by Wynn Resorts, who pulled out after news of this potential deal was leaked to the media.