The casino regulator for the Australian state of New South Wales has reportedly decided to fine The Star Entertainment Group Limited a record AU$100 million (US$62 million) for failing to stem criminal activities and money laundering within its The Star Sydney venue.
According to a Sunday report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the move from the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission comes around a month after the firm was found unfit to hold a casino license for the nation’s most populous state. This purportedly followed the conclusion of an independent investigation led by prominent attorney Adam Bell that concluded the company had flouted rules on the use of Chinese debit cards within its The Star Sydney property to process illicit transactions worth millions of dollars.
Brisbane-headquartered The Star Entertainment Group Limited was reportedly moreover criticized for allegedly lying to its banks about such dealings and failing to properly engage with local regulators. These findings purportedly prompted the Chair for the recently-established New South Wales Independent Casino Commission to accuse the operator of ‘breathtaking institutional arrogance’.
However, The Star Entertainment Group Limited reportedly responded to these conclusions by declaring that it was willing to do ‘whatever necessary’ to keep its New South Wales casino license and subsequently committed to a cultural overhaul that involved the appointment of an independent monitor in international law firm Allen and Overy. The firm purportedly disclosed that this renewal plan is due to be completed by the end of 2024 under the tutelage of an executive sponsor in hopes of allowing it to keep its local certification.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the $63 million penalty is the largest available under New South Wales law and comes after the government of Premier Dominic Perrottet brought in a new set of laws in August. The newspaper reported that the fine is furthermore approximately $12.5 million higher than the punishment handed out to Crown Resorts Limited earlier this year following a raft of similar shortcomings connected to its own Crown Sydney facility.
The fresh regulations introduced by the Perrottet administration reportedly now also allow the government of New South Wales to hold senior casino executives and board members personally liable if they fail to halt any wrongdoing they may know about. However, Matt Bekier purportedly stood down as the Australian firm’s Chief Executive Officer in March alongside several other high-ranking directors while his latest replacement, Geoff Hogg, resigned last month.
The Star Entertainment Group Limited is additionally responsible for the gambling-friendly Treasury Brisbane and The Star Gold Coast venues in its home state of Queensland and is reportedly planning to premiere that jurisdiction’s $2.8 billion Queen’s Wharf Brisbane development by the second half of next year. Former Tyro Payments Limited boss Robbie Cooke has reportedly now assumed the company’s Chief Executive Officer post and earlier this month described the revelation uncovered by the Bell inquiry as ‘confronting’.
Reportedly read an October 13 statement from Cooke…
“The business had lost its way in a number of areas but I’m committed to rehabilitating it and restoring the group to suitability to hold its casino licenses.”