Family Member of Heroin Dealers Churned AU$85m Through SkyCity Adelaide Casino

  • AUSTRAC has launched civil proceedings against SkyCity Adelaide for AML/CTF breaches
  • Adelaide casino failed to run due diligence on 124 customers, some with known criminal links
  • According to court documents, drug-linked “customer 29’s” listed occupation was “meatpacker”
  • The Adelaide Federal Court will decide the penalty for SkyCity, with the possibility of a hefty fine
SkyCity Adelaide
AUSTRAC has started court proceedings against SkyCity Adelaide, with one customer alleged to have churned over AU$85m ($56.7m) via the casino. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Fresh revelations

Court documents have once again exposed the deep and twisted vein of corruption that runs through major players in the Australian casino industry.

This time, it’s SkyCity Adelaide’s turn in the dock. Court documents unveiled on Wednesday allege that one SkyCity customer, who has had three family members convicted of dealing heroin, churned over AU$85m ($56.7m) through the casino.

breaches of anti-money-laundering (AML) and counterterrorism financing (CTF) laws

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (AUSTRAC) has begun civil penalty proceedings against the casino for alleged breaches of anti-money-laundering (AML) and counterterrorism financing (CTF) laws.

In July, Australia’s financial intelligence agency first announced its enforcement investigation into the casino, which is owned and operated by the New Zealand-based SkyCity Entertainment Group. Along with AML and CTF allegations, AUSTRAC also accuses the casino of not having set up an appropriate framework for an internal executive committee to oversee its processes.

Criminal customers

According to AUSTRAC’s court documents, the Adelaide casino failed to run due diligence on 124 customers. AUSTRAC’s statement of claim includes case studies on 59 customers who had some criminal involvement, including the heroin-dealer-linked “customer 29.” Although his listed occupation was “meatpacker,” his turnover racked up to AU$85m ($56.7m) at the casino.

The document also links another gambler with the moniker “customer 30” to an alleged family network of narcotics traffickers. This customer turned over AU$34m+ ($22.7m) at the casino in four years. On several occasions, the court document claims, known associates of this gambler handed over:

cash that was soiled with a strong aroma of dirt.”

“Customer 30 then received chips from these associates after the cash exchange.”

AUSTRAC’s court documents stated that the casino “was aware that some of the customers had been charged or arrested in connection with offences, including dealing with the proceeds of crime and money laundering.”

A fitting penalty

Court documents allege SkyCity Adelaide recorded AU$4bn ($2.6bn) in combined turnover from the non-vetted 124 customers since December 2016. These customers also posted AU$74m ($49.3m) in losses.

According to ABC, it’s up to the Adelaide Federal Court whether to issue a civil penalty order to SkyCity and set the amount of the fine. The offences could reportedly result in a penalty amounting to as much as AU$2bn ($1.3bn) for the casino operator.

Whether or not the casino will get to maintain its license is also up for debate.

In March, AUSTRAC proceeded with legal action against Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth also related to AML and CTF failings. In September, The New South Wales Independent Casino Commission deemed Star Entertainment unfit to hold a Sydney casino license.