Australia's Money Laundering Probe Fuss

Australia's Money Laundering Probe Fuss

Australia has expanded the scope of an ongoing investigtion over a potential breach of money laundering laws.

Previously, National Australia Bank (NAB) and casino operator Crown Resorts have become the subjectsof the initial investigation. The biggest casinos' owners in major Australian cities, including Star Entertainment Group and SkyCity Entertainment Group, are also under scrutiny. This investigation presents a shocking blowback to the gambling industry, impacting most betting companies operating in the country that has struggled with pandemic effect and enhanced regulatory examination.


IMG: Aljazeera

What Is The Money Laundering Probe About?
The anti-money laundering regulator has investigated all the related parties formally since June 7, 2021. Crown Resorts have been under investigation initially for potential breaches at its renowned casino in Melbourne; however, the current development has also included its Sydney casino.

The series of investigations are part of a comprehensive campaign by authorities to target organized crime revenue. The main focus is on financial institutions, casinos, and cryptocurrency exchanges.

Crown has already been under extreme pressure earlier this year. A landmark inquiry found the company unfit for a gaming license in New South Wales. The issue arises after the company planned to open the newly built casino in Sidney, costing AUD 2.2 billion in the making. The inquiry exclaims that the company had been facilitating money laundering and putting employees at risk of arrest in foreign jurisdictions. Crown is also under accusation of establishing business relationships with criminal groups in other Australian cities.

What Has Happened?
Prior to the current investigation, Crown has evaded any charges of illegal activities taking place around its casinos. Their casinos have allegedly been hotspots for money laundering and outing for high-profile Chinese gamblers associated with criminal groups.

Sydney-based Star Entertainment is also under scrutiny for suspected breaches of customer due diligence laws. This event might have an immediate impact on the plan to buy out rival Crown for a deal of AUD 9 billion. In the aftermath of the scandal, Crown shares took a 1.5 percent fall in the overall market; meanwhile, Star shares were down by 3 percent.

New Zealand-based company SkyCity runs a casino in Australia; but, it has also been included in the investigation. The regulator investigates SkyCity's casino in Adelaide due to potential management negligence to identify high-risk and politically exposed customers, including those who hold a prominent public position or role in a government body or international organisation, either in Australia or overseas. NAB has added that the focal point of the probe is weak customer identification procedures and background checks.

What Is The Implication Of The Fuss?
Australia has witnessed record penalties as a result of money laundering breaches in recent history. Fines are expected to any parties involved and proven guilty as charged.

In September 2020, Australia's Westpac Bank was fined AUD 1.3 billion for the nation's most high-profile breach of money laundering laws to date. The Commonwealth Bank also paid AUD 700 million in a money laundering case in 2018.

With casinos currently under the spotlight, the authority aims to actively address the significant risks of money laundering through gambling industries, support proper regulation, and encourage education of the gambling sector. Gamblers — casual or professional — are expected to be more careful and mindful in choosing reliable casinos or bookmakers before placing any bets. Trusted betting guides like SmartBettingGuide might help to decide which betting sites are trustworthy and beneficial.