The operator of Australia's second largest casino, Star Entertainment Group, was fined a record AUD$100 million (US $62 million) by the country's casino regulator for failing to prevent money laundering at its Sydney site.
In addition to the penalties, the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) suspended Star's casino licence on Monday. While Star's licence is suspended, the regulator has also ordered the appointment of a manager to oversee the casino.
The suspension will go into effect on Friday.
"The NICC has concluded that it is no longer in the public interest for The Star to retain control of that licence and that The Star is no longer appropriate to be the licence holder," the regulator said in a news release. "... At this stage, the NICC feels there is a chance The Star can implement the necessary adjustments to give the NICC confidence that it may begin a remediation process with the goal of becoming suitable."
Star has been entangled in a money laundering controversy that culminated last month with the release of the Bell Report, which stated that the casino operator was unfit to keep its licence due to substantial inadequacies in its anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing (AML/CFT) procedures. According to the report, Star's senior management observed a culture "in which corporate goals were given disproportionate precedence over regulatory, money laundering, and terrorism funding threats."
"Quite frankly, the report is disturbing," NICC Chief Commissioner Philip Crawford remarked at the time. "It demonstrates a significant compliance breakdown in critical aspects of The Star's business."
Star recognised the report's findings and acknowledged "the gravity of the alleged actions." In reaction to the issue, the corporation restructured its board and appointed Robbie Cooke as CEO. Cooke joins from Tyro Payments, where he was CEO.
Star also announced the appointment of a new group chief risk officer, corporate secretary, and acting general manager of compliance, as well as the departure of other key executives.
"[Star Entertainment Group] is committed to taking extra required and appropriate action in clear timelines to address the issues mentioned by Mr. Bell," the business said in response to the report.
The NICC said in suspending Star's licence that the decision to appoint a manager was made to keep the casino operating and protect "thousands of jobs at danger." The regulator cited Star's intention to work openly and transparently to correct its inadequacies as a mitigating factor in its decision.
"I'm hopeful that incoming CEO Robbie Cooke will use his knowledge and leadership skills to push the company toward appropriateness under the manager's direction," Crawford said.
By fLEXI tEAM