AUSTRAC Admits To Being Powerless In Stopping Junket Operators From Money Laundering
Crown Resorts which is one of the top two casino operators in Australia has been under the scanner for the last few weeks due to a number of violations. One of the main violations that Crown Resorts and its casinos have been accused of is money laundering.
Crown Resorts relies heavily on junket operators to bring across VIP gamblers who spend millions of dollars at Crown casinos. These VIP gamblers are mostly from China and rely on junket operators to transfer millions of dollars into Australia.
Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is the financial watchdog that looks into financial crimes in the country. AUSTRAC recently admitted that they were aware for a number of years that junket operators tied to casino operators in Australia were laundering money through the casinos but were unable to do much to stop it.
Bloomberg Markets and Finance
AUSTRAC admitted in a 2017 report that they were limited in detecting terror financing and money laundering activities because they were unable to trace the source of funds that the junket operators were bringing into Australia.
The lack of transparency with the source of funds wasn’t just limited to AUSTRAC but also the casino operator. Since the VIP gamblers were overseas and connected with the junket operator outside of Australia, AUSTRAC and the casino operator had very limited access into finding out critical info regarding source of funds.
This lack of transparency opens the door for money laundering and for Asian syndicates to wash millions of dollars at Australian casinos.
Casino Operators Not Serious About AML Measures
While AUSTRAC admitted it was difficult to get transparency over the source of funds, the financial watchdog also stated that casino operators were not very serious about imposing the anti-money laundering procedures they had in place.
Crown Resorts has been accused of being far too welcoming of VIP gamblers and fostering relationships with junket operators who had ties to organized crime in Asia. Crown Resorts derives more than 50 percent of its revenues from VIP gamblers and the Australian operator is used to rolling out the red carpet and throwing in a number of perks to bring in these VIP gamblers.
Crown Resorts is currently facing money laundering allegations over an incident in Sep 2019. There are calls for gambling regulators to strip Crown Resorts of its license due to multiple violations.