Australian gambling giant Crown Resorts has been blocked from proceeding with the December opening of its new casino in Sydney. The decision was taken by the gambling regulatory body in the state of New South Wales (NSW) after a literally last-minute admission revealing that criminals had probably laundered money through the bank accounts of the gambling group.
Earlier today, Philip Crawford, the chairman of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), explained he felt uncomfortable with the opening gaming operations of Crown Resorts until the inquiry into the gambling giant’s operations that is set to find out whether it is fit to hold the Barangaroo casino licence is finalised in 2021.
As Casino Guardian previously, the gambling company planned to open its Barangaroo casino in the middle of December 2020. However, in the light of the strong evidence received by the ILGA regarding Crown’s operations, an emergency meeting was held by the NSW liquor and gambling regulatory body. The watchdog’s chairman explained that the regulator found it disappointing that Crown Resorts was not catching the vibe and had not postponed the planned opening itself after revelations about money laundering at its Perth and Melbourne casinos had emerged.
Mr Crawford further noted that the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority would not consider allowing the casino operator to open the Barangaroo property until the report of Commissioner Bergin is ready. This is supposed to happen by February 1st.
Crown Resorts Makes Unexpected U-Turn on Money Laundering Allegations
Before the NSW gambling regulator’s announcement, Crown Resorts put its shares listed in the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) into a trading halt. The decision of the regulatory authority was made after the legal team of the gambling operator greatly changed its behaviour and admitted that the bank accounts of the two aforementioned casino properties of the company had likely been used for money laundering.
New statements were tabled by Crown Resorts to the inquiry late last night, a move that enraged Commissioner Bergin and became the major reason for the NSW gambling regulator’s decision to delay the planned opening of the Barangaroo casino. At a press conference that took place earlier today, Mr Crawford said that it was literally an 11th-hour decision. He further noted that the authorities were seriously concerned because not only money laundering was involved but also, potentially, people trafficking, drugs, financing terrorism and even about child sexual exploitation.
Previously, the legal representatives of Crown Resorts had tried to convince Commissioner Bergin that the gambling operator’s bank accounts had not been used for money laundering, although there had been multiple suspicious transactions. However, in its latest statement submissions last night, Crown Resorts shared that such money laundering transactions to have been processed through accounts of Riverbank and Southbank.
Robert Craig, SC, legal counsel of Crown Resorts explained the company accepted that there had been funds deposited into the two aforementioned shell companies’ bank accounts that indicated possible money laundering. According to one of the counsels assisting in the ILGA inquiry, the gambling operator’s failure to stop money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth venues is a reason serious enough to believe that the company was unsuitable to keep its operating licence for the AU$2.2-billion casino in Sydney.