Queensland Launches Investigation Into Star Entertainment Group
After years of maintaining a clean image in Australia, the Star Entertainment Group is now mired in its own money laundering scandal. Now, the Queensland government has decided to launch its own investigation into Star’s operations.
Attorney-General Shannon Fentiman has announced that the anti-money laundering agency, Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), together with local Queensland police, will be launching an investigation into the casino group’s shady business practices.
Star was poised to consolidate the Australian casino industry with a possible merger with longtime and currently-embattled rival, Crown Resorts. But recent reports have put a damper on Star’s industry consolidation plans, as the casino group’s own money laundering practices surfaced.
The announcement of the inquiry comes as New South Wales (NSW), Western Australia (WA), and Victoria, also launched similar inquiries over Star’s operations. In Queensland, they operate The Star Gold Coast and Treasury Brisbane and the Star Sydney at Pyrmont.
Fentiman has been closely following the Bergin Inquiry into Crown Resorts. When allegations against Star itself surfaced, the Qld Attorney-General released a statement saying that she found these allegations to be very serious.
In addition, she stated that the investigation will consider whether The Star handled their casino’s money laundering controls appropriately. Her statement added that the government will be taking the outcomes from the various state inquiries into consideration. They will also determine whether or not they would need to change any regulatory framework moving forward.
Star Maintains Media Reports Are Misleading
A scathing report by Australian media channels alleges that the casino had lax anti-money laundering controls. They allege that various illegal activities, including money laundering and foreign interference operations were happening right under their noses.
The report also claims that Star Entertainment had similar failings to rival Crown. In addition, it also claimed that in 2018, consultants informed the operator that their anti-money laundering controls were failing. It looks like Star has done very little to address these failing since then.
In response to the allegations, Star said that the media reports were misleading. The operator will discuss these allegations with the Queensland gaming regulator, and Adam Bell SC, who is the person reviewing controls at The Star Sydney casino for NSW. Bell has previously served as lead counsel for a NSW inquiry into Crown’s Sydney casino, and his review will likely determine whether or not Star would be fit to hold a license to operate casinos not just in NSW, but in multiple states.