SkyCity Entertainment Group, a casino operator based out of New Zealand is now under investigation in Australia over potential money laundering charges at its SkyCity Adelaide casino in South Australia. SkyCity Entertainment has a big presence in New Zealand with casinos in Christchurch, Queenstown, Auckland and Hamilton. It operates only one casino in Australia which is SkyCity Adelaide.
SkyCity Entertainment sent a message to its shareholders and informed them that they had received an official notice from the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) informing them that a formal investigation would take place regarding potential money laundering violations and criminal abuse of the Australian financial system.
The Australian watchdog is focusing on activities that took place between July 2015 to June 2016 and July 2018 to June 2019. These concerns cropped up during a compliance assessment that commenced in September 2019. AUSTRAC has stated that it has reason to believe that the Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument were breached.
ABC News (Australia)
SkyCity Entertainment informed shareholders that these non-compliance issues were categorized as serious and involved not giving due diligence to customers and non-compliance to the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) program.
SkyCity Entertainment Responds
SkyCity Entertainment released a statement confirming that it takes its commitment to follow anti-money laundering regulations very seriously and would share information with AUSTRAC regarding potential breaches during the specified period. The New Zealand operator said that it would provide full cooperation to Australian authorities as it has put in place strict business practices to prevent money laundering at its Adelaide casino.
SkyCity confirmed that AUSTRAC has not yet made a decision with regards to what regulatory action it might take and whether it will take any action at all.
Crown Perth Also Under Investigation
AUSTRAC is also investigating potential money laundering breaches at Crown Melbourne which is the flagship casino for troubled Australian casino operator Crown Resorts. The financial watchdog has now announced that it will extend its investigation and now cover Crown Perth as there are concerns that money laundering laws were breached at Crown Perth.
Crown Resorts released a statement and acknowledged that AUSTRAC had started an official investigation into its Crown Perth casino and said that it would extend full support to the financial watchdog during the investigation.