Fresh Crown Money Laundering Scandal Labelled a Scam

More money laundering uncovered at Crown Resorts

Crown Resorts’ chief financial crimes officer gave evidence at the royal commission, and it did not go as smoothly as he hoped. The royal commission uncovered a fresh money laundering scandal, which the commissioner branded a “fraudulent scam.”

Steven Blackburn, who has been in his role for four months, gave evidence to the royal commission. He was open, honest, and frank throughout while revealing a new money laundering issue at his employer.

Blackburn joined Crown from National Australia Bank in February. Looking into the many money-related issues surrounding Crown is a major component of his role. He hinted the royal commission would find evidence of money laundering when it completes its review into illegal credit card transactions.

Crown disclosed in June that it broke Victorian law from 2012 and 2016 after allowing international visitors to make credit card charges to their hotel accounts in exchange for casino chips. Crown sanctioned transactions of up to $500,000.

Blackburn last week admitted Crown’s senior management team should have known the practice was illegal. Furthermore, they should have known the procedure could cause significant legal and money laundering problems.

Commissioner Finkelstein Calls Money Laundering Practice a Scam

Commissioner Finkelstein QC, the man in charge of the royal commission, is not a man to mince his words. He is not someone who is backwards in coming forwards. Finkelstein suggested Crown’s senior managers did know about the money laundering but did not care.

“We’re not going to interrupt the flow of revenue, and if we break a few laws, bad luck,” are the words Finkelstein suggested Crown’s board members used.

“The whole thing was a fraudulent scam from the outset, and everybody involved would have known that,” he added.

A memo from Crown’s senior legal counsel Robert Meade highlighted Meade’s concerns about the practice. Meade wrote that the payment process was clearly designed to bypass Chinese laws that limit the movement of money out of China.

In addition, charging huge payments to rooms instead of the casino meant AUSTRAC never learned of the transactions. The move prevented banks from flagging suspicious transactions because they should up as hotel payments, not gambling payments.

Deloitte is going through Crown’s finances with a fine-toothed comb, hoping to determine if the total amount of the transactions was more than the $160 million Crown admitted to. Furthermore, Deloitte will determine if there are indicators of money laundering.

“I suspect there will be. But reporting them seven years later is not terribly helpful.”

Responsible Gambling Back Under the Spotlight

The royal commission previously heard about Crown’s lack of responsible gambling measures. Two more cases came to light, including one where a woman gambled for 96 hours straight.

An unnamed married mother, a former doctor, played baccarat for 96 hours at Crown Melbourne. She took short breaks during which she had a series of microsleeps while sitting in front of poker machines.

The problem gambler’s social worker claims no Crown employees spoke to her patient during the mega gambling session. Furthermore, the social worker witnessed patrons sleeping in chairs and some crying while playing pokies.

The case of Binbin Du highlighted a lack of social responsibility on Crown’s part. Du grew up in China but moved to Brisbane as a teenager in 2002. Du prefers playing baccarat, like many fellow Chinese nationals.

He lost his job in 2017 and began sports betting to kill time and make some money. His losses piled up, his wife left him, and Du began frequenting Crown Melbourne.

Du had lost $300,000 by the time Crown staff approached him with budgeting tips. Du told the royal commission he saw one man lose $2 million in 30 minutes betting $150,000 per baccarat hand in Crown’s Mahogany Room, which is reserved for high roller VIPs.

“I have so many acquaintances and friends who’ve ruined their lives, been affected or even ruined by gambling in Mahogany.”