In Australia and law enforcement officials have reportedly launched a special investigation into whether overseas junket operators may be aiding Chinese organized crime syndicates by using the nation’s casinos to illegally launder money.

Contentious claims:

According to a Friday report from GGRAsia citing earlier stories from The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald newspapers, the inquiry being led by the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) was initiated amid allegations that local casino operator, Crown Resorts Limited, may possibly be helping to facilitate such illicit activities via high-roller gambling lounges inside its casinos.

Unidentified targets:

GGRAsia reported that the man behind the ACIC, Michael Phelan, revealed that the Targeting Criminal Wealth investigation was looking into junket firms present across the nation although he declined to specifically identify any of these operators by name. He purportedly also told the newspapers that his agency and other regulatory partners were ‘aware and actively addressing the significant risks of money laundering through casinos particularly through casino junkets’ and was looking into the ‘opportunities for criminal exploitation’ that may exist due to the ‘lack of transparency of casino junket operations, anonymity of participants and obscurity around beneficial ownership, source and distribution of junket funds.’

Ongoing endeavor:

An unidentified spokesperson for the ACIC reportedly told GGRAsia that the investigation was part of ‘a long-standing ACIC board-approved determination’ that has been tasked with disrupting and deterring ‘criminal groups’ via the collection of ‘evidence and intelligence about financially motivated crime.’

Risky suggestion:

Macau-based junket behemoth, Suncity Group, could possibly be one of those firms being looked at by the ACIC due the presence of its VIP gambling lounge inside the Crown Melbourne, which is a venue owned by Crown Resorts Limited, and the recent revelation that its boss, Alvin Chau Cheok Wa, had been refused entry to Australia.

In response to a direct approach, the privately-held firm’s junket businesses in territories including Macau, Cambodia, Australia and Vietnam are ‘rigorously licensed to perform in accordance with legal requirements and the license conditions.’

Reportedly read the response from Suncity Group…

“For any misrepresentation and misleading reports regarding Suncity Group that could have caused reputational damage, the group reserves the right to take necessary legal action.”