Crown Resorts’ Barangaroo casino will not open until the findings of the Bergin inquiry are handed down in February. It is only then that a decision will be made as to whether it is suitable for Crown Resorts to hold its gaming licence. The $2.2 billion development was due to open for business in mid-December.
This afternoon, the Chair of the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority, Philip Crawford, announced the decision in response to the ‘surprise’ submission of further evidence by Crown to the Bergin inquiry at the last minute, late on Tuesday night.
Crown Resorts submitted evidence indicating that some analysis of their accounts in Melbourne – and done by Crown and their accountants – “seems to reveal that there has been some money laundering,” said Crawford.
Given that this associates Crown Casino with the proceeds of crime, Mr Crawford said that “it would pose unacceptable risks on the community”.
Earlier in the day at the Bergin inquiry, Crown admitted “it was more probable than not” that criminals had laundered money through two of its bank accounts – Riverbank and Southbank – that were set up to handle debts owed by VIP gamblers who had been brought to the casino by international junket operators.
It is alleged that in 2018, Crown Casino in Melbourne or Perth provided the opportunity for illegally gotten monies to be cleaned and turned a blind eye when red flags were raised by the ANZ and Commonwealth banks after multiple payments by the same patron of under $10,000 – the threshold for mandatory reporting to financial crimes regulator AUSTRAC – were made on the same day.
This practice is also known as “smurfing”: to break down a large amount of money into smaller transactions to sidestep financial reporting laws.
Mr Crawford did say that the the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority had suggested a soft opening to Crown where the bars, restaurants and hotel could trade, just without the gaming. Crown declined the opportunity.