Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos are being taken to court by Australia’s financial intelligence agency over alleged breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
AUSTRAC on Tuesday served the two operations with a statement of claim and commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court, following an investigation that began in October.
AUSTRAC chief Nicole Rose said Crown’s failure to meet anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing obligations left the business and Australia’s financial system vulnerable to criminal exploitation.
“AUSTRAC’s investigation identified poor governance, risk management and failures to have and maintain a compliant … program detailing how Crown would identify, mitigate and manage the risk of their products and services being misused for money laundering or terrorism financing,” she said.
“They also failed to carry out appropriate ongoing customer due diligence, including on some very high-risk customers.
“This led to widespread and serious non-compliance over a number of years.”
Ms Rose said the absence of appropriate controls and processes allowed the movement of money in non-transparent ways making Crown vulnerable to criminal exploitation.
“This is an important reminder to all casinos in Australia that they must have a strong anti-money laundering program in place to protect their business and the community from serious and organised crime.”
Crown, which is the target of a $9 billion takeover offer from private equity group Blackstone, said the legal action was expected and it was working on improving governance, compliance, responsible gaming and financial crime risk management.
“Crown is currently reviewing AUSTRAC’s statement of claim,” it added.
AUSTRAC has been working with the casino sector to strengthen compliance and conducts regular assessments.
Its enforcement investigations into SkyCity Adelaide and the Star Group continue.