Police Uncover $4.7M Money Laundering Scheme

Australian Federal Police uncovered a money laundering scheme in south-east Melbourne that is thought to have netted criminals $4.7 million.

Australian Federal Police uncovered a money laundering scheme that netted criminals $4.7 million. Police officers performed several raids in southeast Melbourne, where they recovered large amounts of cash in addition to gold.

The criminals targeted jackpot winners at the Greyhounds Entertainment gaming venue in Springvale. They offered cash payments at a premium in exchange for the winning cheque. The casino issued the cheque in the name of one of the criminals, who deposited the cheque into a bank as legitimate gambling winnings. The gang focussed on pokies jackpot winners, avoiding other casino games such as roulette games because the pokies jackpots are larger.

Police arrested three people following several raids, including one at a Springvale South house. Officers uncovered $170,000 in cash, in addition to a quantity of gold, hidden away in a bedroom. The scheme’s ringleader is a 49-year-old Springvale South woman. They charged here, a 63-year-old man and a 61-year-old woman. The trio head to court on Thursday.

Police Assistant Commissioner Seeks to Cripple Crime Syndicates

Australian Federal Police Assistant Commissioner Raegan Stewart headed the operation. Stewart revealed police investigated the money laundering scheme for a year after AUSTRAC tipped them off.

“Money laundering is the backbone of organised crime activity. Targeting how organised crime groups get their ill-gotten profits into our legitimate financial systems is a key priority for the Australian Federal Poker. We seek to cripple their business models.”

Stewart neglected to inform reporters of the type of organised crime group funding the syndicate. However, the arrested trio are purely involved in money laundering, Stewart said.

Was The Gaming Venue In On The Scheme?

Annette Kimmitt, the chief executive of the Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission, provided some damning evidence about the Greyhounds Entertainment venue. Kimmitt revealed the regulator performed its own investigation, which turned up some jaw-dropping figures.

The venue issued a staggering 73 per cent of cheques to a small group of patrons alleged to be part of the money laundering operation. High rollers and those part of the upper tiers of the casino VIP program proved popular with the criminals. Kimmitt’s team is investigating the gaming venue.

“Today we put the whole gambling industry on notice. At this stage, the venue is cooperating with us. Our investigation started with just routine data and audits that we do. We identified this venue as having quite an abnormally high number of cheques relative to other venues.”

“The money laundering network would still be operating if it wasn’t for the forensic approach taken by our dedicated team of analysts and investigators, who put countless hours into reviewing data and footage, and conducting our own covert operations.”

Kimmitt warned of large fines and licence cancellations if the watchdog discovers the venue broke Victorian gambling laws.

Tighter Regulation Needed

The scheme was that brazen that it was obvious money laundering was taking place. The casino should never issue cheques to patrons other than the jackpot winners. Furthermore, why did the jackpot winners not smell something fishy when approached and offered cash worth more than their cheques.

Police and gambling authorities welcome tougher, tighter money laundering regulations. Regulators continually look at ways to make casinos a less attractive target for criminal gangs.

Facial recognition software is becoming more prevalent despite fears it breaks privacy rules. In addition, some casinos are switching to a system where cash is no longer king. Those playing casino games Australia use a card the casino’s cashier loads money onto. Cardholders provide government-issued identification before using their card. This process instantly stops money laundering because criminals no longer operate anonymously. Police quickly learn of any irregular activity.

The same process helps prevent problem gamblers because systems track a patron’s gambling activity. Indeed, Crown Melbourne is currently trialling a cashless system across a selection of its games.