Star Entertainment’s financial crime officer has admitted she may have shredded a Hong Kong Jockey club report detailing alleged links of an overseas junket operator to triads, drug trafficking and money laundering, an inquiry has been told.
The NSW gaming regulator’s inquiry, now in its fourth week, is investigating whether The Star Sydney has been infiltrated by criminal elements, and if the gaming venue is fit to retain its casino licence.
Skye Arnott, the chief officer in charge of preventing financial crime at Star Entertainment, fielded questions on Tuesday from counsel assisting, Naomi Sharp, about VIP room Salon 95 at the Star Sydney, which was exclusively accessed by Macau-based junket operator Suncity.
The inquiry was told Ms Arnott received a paper copy of the HKJC report, probably in 2019, alleging the backer of the junket, Alvin Chau, had “very unsavoury business associations” linked to the drug trade, money laundering and organised crime.
“Despite the information contained in that report that was known to you … you paid very little heed to that report,” Ms Sharp put to the witness.
Ms Arnott replied that she could potentially have investigated some areas of the report “more fully” but in other areas “some of the issues were perhaps overstated”.
Adam Bell, who is helming the inquiry, asked Ms Arnott what happened to her copy of the report, with Ms Arnott replying: “I believe I either handed it back to the person who gave it to me or I probably would have put it in the shredder”.
“The shredder?” Mr Bell then asked.
Ms Arnott replied that she had “no way of securing” the paper-based report copy.
The inquiry was told Ms Arnott made no mention of receiving the report in her statement to the probe, with Ms Sharp accusing the witness of a “technical and narrow” approach that left the inquiry to “work out what the real situation was”.
“No I disagree,” Ms Arnott said.
Quizzed over exactly when she became aware of the report, Ms Arnott replied: “I just don’t remember, I’m sorry”.
Despite a casino rule that cash could not be exchanged for chips in Salon 95 , it was reported to Ms Arnott in May 2018 that “large sums of cash” were taken into the room in bags, the inquiry was told
A further seven “incidents of concern” inside the high roller room were brought to Ms Arnott’s attention in May 2019, in what was deemed a “very serious problem” that presented a “high risk” of money laundering.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority probe has so far prompted the resignation of Star CEO Matt Bekier, and sparked calls for a similar inquiry into the ASX-listed company’s two Queensland casinos.
The inquiry continues.