Austrac Finds Crown Melbourne Subject to Junket Crimes
Austrac has discovered that Crown Melbourne has been subject to almost 300 criminal transactions via junket operations.
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (Austrac) is a financial crimes watchdog located in Australia that recently provided information regarding illegal activity and the Crown Melbourne. According to the watchdog, as many as 300 criminal transactions took place involving junket tours and the casino. In total, 500 of such transactions have taken place in the country, so this means the casino was the base for more than half of the criminal activity.
Money Laundering Schemes
In early December, operators of junket tours were told by Austrac that they were being used to by criminal organizations located overseas to complete money laundering transactions. Individuals from China are not allowed to leave the country with a large amount of money. However, they can beat the system by placing bets overseas via junket operators.
High rollers from China can use casinos in Australia via junkets to receive credits to wager as much as they like. This process has gone on for some time and now, Austrac has revealed that some of the tour operators are connected to criminal organizations.
Businesses and individuals are being told by Austrac that they need to report any suspicious transactions that could be connected to money-laundering. Casinos must report this activity as well. For Crown Melbourne, the casino reported 50,000 times to the watchdog in 2019 and of that number, 5,000 were connected to criminal activity.
Gambling License May Be Revoked
Because Austrac is concerned about the number of transactions connected to criminal activity at the Crown Casino in Melbourne, the property may lose its gaming license. The evidence produced by the watchdog comes at a time when the parent company, Crown Resorts, is under investigation in New South Wales for its Crown Sydney location.
Victoria will be conducting an investigation into the Crown Melbourne business now and its ability to continue offering gambling services will be under consideration. Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister, Melissa Horne, commented that the activity requires urgent measures must be taken.
As the Crown Melbourne could lose its license, Crown Resorts have even more problems on its hands. The operator was not allowed to open its Barangaroo Casino in Sydney due to the money laundering rumors swirling around the operator at the moment. Now that even more issues have come out involving another property, the casino may lose its license entirely.
For right now, the company cannot offer gaming services at the Barangaroo property. Crown Resorts is being investigated by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and the Authority has told the company they must stop working with unlicensed junket tour operators now.
The investigation into Crown Resorts by the ILGA will not be completed until February of next year. Because of this, the Sydney casino was allowed to open non-gaming services. The casino may also be approved for additional liquor licensing in the near future.
Crown Resorts announced recently that they will have the casino property prepared and ready for hotel services by December 28. The operator will at least be able to serve guests with dining and hotel stays along with other non-gaming options.
It is unclear as to what action will be taken against Crown Resorts at this time. Right now, they are facing several investigations into multiple properties. The investigations are similar as they both cover money laundering activities and junket operations. The company is considered to be one of the largest and well established in the industry.
If they lose their gaming license in one or more areas, it would be a huge blow to the operator as a whole. We will stay tuned to any new details of the investigations into Crown Resorts and what occurs in the next few weeks.