News State NSW News Star junket risk discussed, not documented

Star junket risk discussed, not documented

Star casino
Star Entertainment chairman John O'Neill is set to face an inquiry into the gambling giant. Photo: AAP
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Star Entertainment’s top risk and legal manager says risk assessments were completed on a controversial junket operator but it’s possible they weren’t documented.

An inquiry into whether The Star Sydney should keep its casino licence is under way, with chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin continuing her testimony on Thursday.

Star top brass Mark Walker, Harry Theodore, Greg Hawkins and former chief executive Matt Bekier will also face the probe, which is helmed by Adam Bell SC.

The hearing was initially delayed by the production of new evidence on Thursday.

“We were just notified there were some further documents to produce this morning … among those documents is an email I need to examine about this morning,” counsel assisting the inquiry Naomi Sharp SC said.

“Are you saying that these documents should have been produced earlier in answer to a summons?” Mr Bell asked.

“Yes,” she replied.

The email referred to meetings in Hong Kong and Macau that raised questions about the character of people linked to operators in Star’s international rebate business, known as junkets.

The hearing has previously heard the Suncity junket operator – a group with alleged organised crime links – had an exclusive access deal over a VIP room known as Salon 95 at The Star, where an illegal cage was operated.

Ms Martin told the hearing she did not have much insight into the specifics of due diligence investigations, beyond knowing they were being conducted, and was not personally involved.

Anti-money laundering compliance officers at The Star were allowed to make their own decisions independently, Ms Martin told the hearing.

Ms Martin had limited knowledge of the risk assessments of Suncity and its CEO Alvin Chau, following media allegations of money laundering occurring in Salon 95.

The risk assessments were completed, Ms Martin said.

However, she could not tell the hearing where a document proving that could be found, and would be “guessing” if she was to specifically name someone who had conducted one.

Ms Sharp said she had requested documents showing a risk assessment into Alvin Chau and Suncity had been completed in the second half of 2019, but none had been provided.

“That rather suggests that there was no completed risk assessment,” Ms Sharp said.

“That’s possibly the case in a documented sense,” Ms Martin said.

“But I don’t think it rules out that there were discussions about risk aspects that were assessed at that time,” she said.

While those discussions were happening, Suncity was continuing to operate in a different room called Salon 82, without the service desk that the inquiry has been told operated like an illegal casino cage.

Suncity continued operating at The Star until Mr Chau was arrested in November, the hearing has previously heard.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry last month prompted the resignation of Mr Bekier, who stepped down following issues raised at the probe. It has also led to calls for a similar inquiry in Queensland.

The inquiry was sparked by media reports accusing Star of enabling suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference at its gaming facilities, including The Star Sydney.

The hearing continues.