Australian giant casino operator, The Star, has been served this week with another statement of claim for a securities class action in the Supreme Court of Victoria. The latest lawsuit is the second this week served over alleged ‘misleading representations’ and the lack of transparency ‘about its systems and processes for compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing obligations.’
This is the fourth lawsuit served to The Star in less than one-year time and the second claim filed against the operator this week. Monday’s lawsuit allegations that the operator ‘failed to disclose relevant information it had about those matters to the market, and conducted its affairs contrary to the interest of the members of The Star as a whole’ are now extended to The Star’s operations with junkets and the associated financial transactions.
Alleged failure to announce information:
The latest lawsuit served to the Australian casino Tuesday alleges that The Star had not duly advised the information about its ‘conduct relating to junkets, Star’s Accounts with the Bank of China Macau, and China Union Pay transitions’. The company announced the receipt of the statement of claim yesterday and the company’s intention to defend the proceedings.
Focus of AML investigations:
The announcement also stated that ”the claim overlaps considerably with the separate securities class actions filed by Slater & Gordon (announced on 30 March 2022), Maurice Blackburn (7 November 2022) and Phi Finney McDonald (6 February 2023)” after The Star had become the focus of anti-money laundering investigations by the state regulators, as well as AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial crimes watchdog. As a result, the company’s gambling licenses for Queensland and Sydney have been suspended with both venues now being managed by an independent appointee.
Hundreds of millions in fines:
AUSTRAC and the state’s gaming board ordered The Star to pay hundreds of millions in fines for the failure to abide by anti-money laundering laws and the lack of continuous record-keeping of the clients’ gambling issues. The casino operator has already prepared the payment of the $67 million fine issued by the New South Wales Independent Casino Commission. The payment is divided into three installments and shall be completed by the end of the year.
License suspension postponed:
The Star also has to pay an additional $ 68 million fine for its Sydney property which is still under AUSTRAC‘s investigation and potentially subject to further penalties. Casino licenses for the group’s Sydney and Queensland properties are subject to suspension, but the Queensland license suspension has been postponed until December 1st to allow the casino enough time to ensure compliance here.
Gaming commissions in these states have announced the possibility of further measures if the operator fails to return to compliance within the given time frame. The two lawsuits in a row filed against The Star just this week may be considered a brief reminder for the company to do so at the earliest opportunity.