Star boss denies not being 'fully candid'

Star Entertainment’s chief financial crime officer has defended dealing with a Macau-based junket operator despite knowing of a report linking it to millions of dollars of drug-trafficking related money laundering, an inquiry has been told.

The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority inquiry into The Star Sydney has so far prompted the resignation of Star CEO Matt Bekier, and sparked calls for a similar inquiry into the ASX-listed company’s two Queensland casinos.

The inquiry is examining whether the Sydney casino has been infiltrated by criminal activity, and if its casino licence should be withdrawn.

Star’s chief financial crime officer Skye Arnott on Monday admitted the casino continued to deal with junket operator Suncity even after becoming aware in 2019 of a Hong Kong Jockey Club report linking the group to Triads, “large scale” money laundering and drug trafficking.

Suncity, according to the HKJC report, from 2013 to 2015 laundered about $2 million a day in cash, including proceeds of drug trafficking, the inquiry was told.

Star allowed Suncity to run a cage – a desk where cash is exchanged for chips – at a VIP room known as Salon 95 inside the Sydney casino even though the junket operator had no authority to do so, the inquiry has previously been told.

“Wasn’t there every reason by this time to consider that it was inappropriate for Star Entertainment to deal with Alvin Chau?” counsel assisting Naomi Sharp asked the witness.

“My decisions were based on the fact that I had concerns with the report,” Ms Arnott said of the HKJC report.

Despite the report, it took until 2020 for the casino to do “enhanced” customer due diligence on Suncity and “unusual transactions” in Salon 95, the inquiry was told.

“Yes we should have done it more quickly,” Ms Arnott said.

She described the delay as not “completely remiss” arguing “we were trying to mitigate the risks of Suncity and other junkets in other ways at that time”.

She rejected not taking a “fully candid” approach in her statement to the inquiry, which made no mention of her having access to the HKJC report.

“Did you in fact go out of your way not to mention that you had access to the Hong Kong Jockey Club Report?” Ms Sharp asked.

No,” she replied.

Earlier, she said she was not aware of a Star investigator’s view, in May 2018, that Suncity was “totally noncompliant” with requests for information about Salon 95.

She was also unaware of the investigator’s opinion Suncity was running a business model “problematic for Star Entertainment with regard to AML (anti-money laundering) CTF (counter terrorism financing) laws”.

The witness was also questioned over “concerning” CCTV footage taken from inside Salon 95 in April 2018, showing a Suncity representative taking bundles of cash from a black bag and placing them under a desk in the VIP room.

“You are concerned that the cash does not appear to have come from a junket participant? If you beloved this article therefore you would like to acquire more info concerning คาสิโนออนไลน์ nicely visit our own web site. ” Ms Sharp asked.

“Correct,” Ms Arnott replied.

“Those are large concerns are they not?” Ms Sharp then asked.

“They are things that I would consider suspicious,” Ms Arnott replied.

The inquiry continues on Tuesday.

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