Crown Resorts Never Received Anti-Money Laundering Compliance Gold Star, Despite Claims

  • NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is investigating Crown Resorts
  • Anti-money laundering expert refutes comments from ex-Crown chairman John Alexander
  • Alexander claimed that the board was told that Crown Resorts was a “gold star” customer
  • Crown allegedly has links to criminal gangs in Asia and potential money laundering
cash in a dryer
An independent expert has refuted claims that he told Crown Resorts that it was a “gold star” client for its anti-money laundering compliance. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Inquiry continues

Crown Resorts never got a “gold star” for its anti-money laundering compliance from an independent expert despite claims from the former chairman of the Australian casino company, John Alexander. 

This revelation came through a probity inquiry into Crown Resorts by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority. On Friday, Neil Jeans of the anti-money laundering consultancy group Initialism said that Alexander’s comments to the media on August 21, 2019 did not reflect the advice that Jeans had given to the company. 

That is not language I have ever used prior to this article being presented”

Jeans said: “That is not language I have ever used prior to this article being presented, in any report to any customer or in any meeting with any customer.”

In a media conference in August 2019, Alexander said: “[Mr Jeans] as recently as yesterday … told the board that we are completely compliant. We are a gold star customer.”

Jeans underlined in the inquiry on Friday that this was “not an accurate statement” and not reflective of what he told the risk management committee of Crown Resorts on August 9 and the board of directors on August 20.

The allegations

There have been allegations published by various media channels that Crown was working with “junket” tour operators that have links to powerful crime gangs in Asia. It has been alleged that Crown casinos were being used by criminals to launder dirty money.

In an attempt to defend the company from these allegations, former executive chairman Alexander cited the work of Jeans as a defense of the reputation of Crown Resorts. 

Jeans told Crown Resorts that the media reports were not in conflict with the findings from his compliance review that concluded that the company was satisfying the anti-money laundering requirements in Australia. He did point out areas of potential improvement, such as automating the “highly manual” monitoring system for transactions. 

suspected of being utilized for money laundering

While he looked at the structure and design of the monitoring process, he did not look at if they worked effectively in practice. Speaking to the inquiry, Jeans said that he was not aware when conducting his compliance review in 2018 of the existence of patron deposit bank accounts that Crown Resorts had opened through a couple of shell companies. The inquiry has been told that the transactions in these accounts were not monitored and were suspected of being utilized for money laundering.

Suitability inquiry

After Alexander’s comments to the media, Jeans immediately spoke to Crown Resorts about his concerns about the misrepresentation of his analysis.

He was assured by then-CFO and current chief executive Ken Barton that the comments would not be repeated. In January, Alexander stepped down from his role as executive chairman, but he remains as a company director.

This inquiry in NSW, led by former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, is currently looking into whether or not Crown Resorts is a suitable party to have a license for a AU$2.2bn (US$1.6bn) casino in Sydney. The casino is hoping to open its doors in December.

Other notable findings of the inquiry to date include the discovery of an authorized AU$500,000 (US$364,767) wire transfer to a convicted drug trafficker, as well as Crown Resorts publishing a false advertisement and marketing release last year.