In Australia and a lawyer assisting the New South Wales government inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group Limited has reportedly recommended that the firm be barred from holding a local casino license until it has decisively rectified a number of risk management failures.
According to a report from The Age newspaper, this advice from state counsel Naomi Sharp (pictured) came on the final day of the probe into the Brisbane-headquartered company’s suitability to hold a gambling license for its 351-room The Star Sydney property. The lawyer purportedly also advised the examination that the operator still has a dysfunctional internal culture and only belatedly offered limited admissions of wrongdoing with very little insights into how and why things went south.
This inquiry into The Star Entertainment Group Limited is being chaired by prominent local attorney Adam Bell and kicked off approximately eight months after rival operator Crown Resorts Limited was refused permission to open a casino within its new Crown Sydney facility owing to a slew of money laundering allegations tied to that company’s past use of foreign junket firms. Sharp reportedly told this latest New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority-backed investigation that both operators should be held to the same standards and be obliged to treat their gambling licenses as a privilege that confers the ability to earn ‘very substantial revenues.’
Sharp reportedly stated…
“To date, very little has been said about why these problems have happened and why the misconduct occurred. Very little has been said about why the culture was dysfunctional to the extent that it was and why the second line of defence under the risk management framework failed so fundamentally. We submit, there is still the need for a further period of reflection and investigation to understand how this could have gone so wrong.”
The Star Entertainment Group Limited is also responsible for The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane venues in Queensland and is reportedly hoping to premiere that state’s $2.3 billion Queens Wharf Brisbane development by the summer of next year. However, investigators in New South Wales purportedly earlier heard how the company had flouted rules on the use of Chinese debit cards to process at least $647 million in illicit transactions, lied to banks about such dealings and failed to properly engage with local regulators.
Moreover the subject of an analogous examination by officials in Queensland, Sydney-listed The Star Entertainment Group Limited is furthermore alleged to have continued to run an illegal high-roller operation within its The Star Sydney venue in partnership with sullied junket enterprise Suncity Group despite an earlier assertion that such a relationship did not exist. This was all purportedly topped off by contentions that the company may have failed to contribute sufficient New South Wales gaming duties while covertly working to stop the opening of the inquiry.
Sharp reportedly declared…
“The reality remains that this company was not running a flower shop, it was running casinos and in casinos there are well-known risks of criminal infiltration and of money laundering.”
The Age reported that Bell is expected to present his inquiry findings to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority by the end of August while Sharp additionally sought to invalidate a claim from The Star Entertainment Group Limited that it was now suitable to hold a casino license in the wake of the recent resignations of its Chief Executive Officer and Chairman. She purportedly finished by citing the beleaguered firm’s failure to disclose Project Congo, which was an internal assessment conducted last summer to determine the ‘good repute’ of its junket partners, as a further sign of ongoing issues.
Sharp reportedly proclaimed…
“It underscores the point that the process of reflection in which The Star Entertainment Group Limited is engaging is far from complete.”