In Australia and the boss for The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly announced his resignation at the same time as another senior executive officially confirmed to an ongoing public inquiry that the casino firm had hid gambling transactions from its banks.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, the Brisbane-headquartered company is being examined as part of the quinquennial review into the New South Wales casino license held by its The Star Sydney property. This probe chaired by prominent local attorney Adam Bell was purportedly initiated some eight months after rival operator Crown Resorts Limited was refused permission to bring gambling to its new Crown Sydney facility owing to a slew of money laundering allegations tied to that company’s former use of foreign junket firms.
The Star Entertainment Group Limited is also responsible for The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues in the neighboring state of Queensland and is hoping to premiere its $2.3 billion Queens Wharf Brisbane development by the summer of next year. The New South Wales probe was reportedly told two weeks ago how the company had disguised casino-related transactions worth almost $667 million as hotel expenses in order to get around China’s strict controls on the movement of capital.
This bombshell was reportedly last week followed by a further damning revelation that The Star Entertainment Group Limited had continued working with beleaguered junket operator Suncity Group despite telling the market that the two had parted ways in 2019. The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority-sanctioned examination moreover purportedly heard how the Macau-based partner’s in-house Salon 95 VIP gaming suite had simply been moved into an unbranded private room.
All of this has now reportedly prompted the Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer for The Star Entertainment Group Limited, Matt Bekier (pictured), to announce his resignation while remaining committed to helping the Sydney-listed operator ‘transition his executive responsibilities in an orderly manner’. The firm purportedly used an official press release (pdf) to declare that its boss decided to stand down as ‘he is accountable for the effectiveness and adequacy of the company’s processes, policies, people and culture’.
Reportedly read a statement from The Star Entertainment Group Limited…
“Mr Bekier said the right thing to do was for him to take responsibility.”
This resignation reportedly emerged just hours before the New South Wales Regulatory Manager for The Star Entertainment Group Limited, David Aloi, told investigators that his company had indeed set up a ‘workaround’ that permitted guests using China Union Pay bank cards to hide their gambling transactions as accommodation charges. The executive purportedly went on to disclose that he had been uncomfortable with this system that allowed hotel patrons to swipe their cards so as to transfer cash into their gambling accounts.
Aloi reportedly also divulged that senior management figures had scoffed at his opposition to dressing up gambling transactions as accommodation charges and at one stage had told him just to ‘get it done’. The figure purportedly furthermore relayed how the National Australia Bank Account Manager for The Star Sydney had said that he ‘couldn’t see a problem’ as the card machines being used for such a regime were located in a hotel rather than on a casino floor.
Prominent risk governance expert Elizabeth Sheedy reportedly told the broadcaster that more senior management figures at The Star Entertainment Group Limited will now likely have to resign as ‘issues were swept under the carpet and not resolved’. The specialist moreover asserted that figures within the operator’s risk and audit committees are to be particularly vulnerable in advance of describing Bekier as having ‘done a very bad job of leading this company.’
Sheedy reportedly declared…
“It would not surprise me if The Star Entertainment Group Limited was deemed unsuitable to hold a casino licence at the end of this inquiry.”