In Australia and the new gambling regulator for the southern state of Victoria has reportedly launched disciplinary proceedings against Crown Resorts Limited that could result in the casino operator being hit with fines totalling up to $76 million.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Melbourne-headquartered firm is being accused of running a scheme that allowed Chinese gamblers to circumvent their home nation’s strict controls on the overseas movement of capital. The source detailed that this arrangement is allegedly thought to have permitted users of China UnionPay bank cards to transfer more than the $50,000 annual limit put in place by Beijing for the four years from 2012.
This contentious program was reportedly uncovered during last year’s lengthy royal commission investigation into Crown Resorts Limited that eventually allowed the firm to retain the local gambling license for its giant Crown Melbourne facility despite uncovering large lapses in its implementation of effective anti-money laundering controls. This probe purportedly moreover resulted in the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation being stripped of its casino regulatory duties in favor of the new Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.
The Australian Broadcasting Corporation reported that the eight-month Victoria examination into Crown Resorts Limited, which is also responsible for the Crown Perth development in Western Australia, was led by former Federal Court Judge Ray Finkelstein and found that the Sydney-listed company had permitted China UnionPay customers to illicitly disguise gambling transactions as hotel expenses. The source disclosed that this scheme had violated the state’s licensing conditions and Casino Control Act because these VIP punters were subsequently issued with vouchers that could be immediately exchanged for chips.
The broadcaster additionally reported that the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission has more powers than its Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation predecessor alongside the ability to issue fines of up to $76 million. Being chaired by former health department secretary Fran Thorn, the new-look regulator may furthermore vary a licensee’s conditions or compel an operator to take rectification steps.
Reportedly read a statement from Thorn…
“As a first step, we are acting on the royal commission’s findings that Crown Reosrts Limited’s China UnionPay process breached important Victorian regulatory obligations, was illegal and constituted serious misconduct.”
For its part and Crown Resorts Limited reportedly proclaimed that it was ‘working cooperatively’ with the new watchdog at the same time as acknowledging the seriousness of its failings in running the China UnionPay scheme, which it ended in 2016. The casino firm is purportedly the largest single-site employer in Victoria and recently accepted an around $6.35 billion takeover offer from American private equity management firm The Blackstone Group Incorporated.
A statement from Crown Resorts Limited reportedly read…
“We are currently reviewing the notice and will be working cooperatively with the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission to close out this and all other outstanding matters stemming from the report of the Victorian royal commission. Our priority remains delivering on our reform and remediation program to ensure we deliver a safe and responsible gaming environment.”