The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN), a U.S federal agency that fights money laundering has levied a fine of $1 million on Sparks Nugget Inc, a Nevada based casino operator. Sparks operates the Nugget Casino Resort which previously went by the name of John Ascuaga’s Nugget in Sparks, Nevada.
FinCEN has charged the casino of having violated several anti-money laundering requirements detailed under the Bank Secrecy Act. According to the agency, the casino’s management ignored recommendations of its compliance manager and decided against filing Suspicious Activity Reports (SARs) that had been developed by the manager and barred her from speaking to Internal Revenue Service auditors.
The casino also did not file many of its Currency Transaction Reports (CTRs) and violated numerous recordkeeping rules. Its managers have been accused of falsely claiming that no suspicious activity took place on its premises.
FinCEN further found that the management committee that was constituted for evaluating SARs and taking a decision on filing them had never held a meeting, with many of its members not even aware that they were part of the committee.
Jennifer Shasky Calvery, FinCEN Director called the lapses a systematic failure, saying that the casino had willfully ignored its responsibilities. She said that the casino had undertaken no action despite hosting convicted embezzlers and getting reports from its compliance manager about suspicious activities on its premises.
The issue was made more serious by the fact that the casino had collected information on its customers in a bid to offer personalized service and manage its risk exposure.
The investigation resulted in the resignation of Michonne Ascuaga stepping down from the Nevada Gaming Control Board in February as Ascuaga was the CEO of the casino until the casino was sold to Wolfhound Holdings in 2013, which subsequently leased the management of the casino’s operations to Global Gaming & Hospitality.
In midst of this furor, an announcement was made by Nevada’s Gaming Control Board that the casino is being sold yet again. It said that it has approved the sale of the casino to Marnell Gaming LLC. The deal is likely to be finalized in May of this year. Anthony Marnell III the CEO of Marnell Gaming LLC has said that such lapses will never occur under his supervision.
Marnell owns two casinos in Laughlin, Nevada which are the Colorado Belle and Edgewater. The company has said that it will up to invest $25 million over the next two years to redevelop facilities on the Sparks property.