News State NSW News Ex Star CEO knew of customer risks

Ex Star CEO knew of customer risks

Star casino
Star Entertainment chairman John O'Neill is set to face an inquiry into the gambling giant. Photo: AAP
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Former Star Entertainment boss Matt Bekier was aware of concerns Chinese banks had about casino customers’ sources of funds but the entertainment giant continued accepting them as patrons.

Mr Bekier, who resigned from Star’s top job in March after damning evidence at a probe into The Star casino, is facing a second day of questions at the inquiry by the gaming regulator.

Liquor and Gaming NSW is examining the fitness of Star to hold a Sydney casino licence, with the probe prompted by reports of the casino operator enabling suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference.

On Tuesday, Mr Bekier said the casino set up a Macau-based subsidiary, EEIS, to start offering what he called “more flexible” credit to patrons as regulators cracked down on the use of cheque cashing facilities to offer loans.

The former chief executive agreed there were concerns at Star over Chinese banks’ worries about the source of funds for some patrons.

He was also aware of a “workaround” that allowed Chinese customers to use their China Union Pay debit cards at the hotel instead of on the gaming floor where the use of debit and credit cards were banned.

Mr Bekier said the advantage for Star was a reduced credit risk from customers.

He also said he wasn’t involved in backgrounding a Sydney Morning Herald journalist whose piece countered reporting in the same paper of Mr Bekier’s reportedly explosive reaction to an internal KPMG report raising the alarm on money laundering risks.

Mr Bekier on Monday admitted to shortcomings in Star’s overseas business, including its deployment of a China Union Pay debit card scheme, assessment of junket operators, and problems in its exclusive Sydney gaming room Salon 95.

The former CEO has given evidence that he felt let down by managers in the VIP business and failed to challenge those inside The Star about their “dark art”.

He has urged a full revamp of the casino’s international department and has emphasised the need for “fresh leadership” at the ASX-listed company.

Mr Bekier has told the inquiry he did not think Star Sydney’s VIP business was out of control, and that it was unlikely the company’s board knew of problems.