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Financial crimes watchdog launches Adelaide casino investigation

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Adelaide’s SkyCity Casino is being investigated by the Federal Government agency responsible for detecting money laundering and criminal abuse of the financial system.

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The casino’s New Zealand-based owner SkyCity Entertainment Group reported to the Australian Securities Exchange this morning it was being investigated by AUSTRAC’s Regulatory Operations Team.

The federal agency says it has identified potential serious non-compliance by SkyCity Adelaide with the Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument.

In its statement to shareholders, SkyCity said the potential serious non-compliance included concerns relating to ongoing customer due diligence, and adopting and maintaining an Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing (AML/CTF) program.

The concerns were identified in the course of an AUSTRAC compliance assessment, which began in September 2019.

The formal investigation is focusing on SkyCity Adelaide’s management of customers identified as high risk and politically exposed persons between July 1, 2015, and June 30, 2016, and from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2019.

SkyCity said it took its anti-money laundering responsibilities and obligations very seriously.

“AUSTRAC has made clear that it has not made a decision regarding the appropriate regulatory response that it may apply to SkyCity Adelaide, including whether or not enforcement action will be taken,” it said in the statement.

“AUSTRAC has indicated that it will request information from SkyCity as part of its investigation. SkyCity will fully co-operate with AUSTRAC in relation to those inquiries and with the investigation of SkyCity Adelaide.

“SkyCity has processes and practices in place in its business to detect and prevent money laundering and continually reviews these to ensure it meets all anti-money laundering requirements.”

Adelaide is the group’s only Australian casino. It also runs New Zealand casinos in Auckland, Christchurch, Hamilton and Queenstown.

The Adelaide operation received more than $23 million in JobKeeper payments from the Australian Government in 2020, helping its New Zealand parent company to a $73.1 million profit for the first half of the 2021 financial year.

SkyCity opened its $330 million Adelaide expansion in the first week of December. The expansion includes new gaming spaces, bars, restaurants and the luxury 120-room EoS hotel.

Meanwhile, AUSTRAC has also launched a formal enforcement investigation into Crown Resorts’ Perth casino.

Crown reported the investigation to the ASX this morning and said Crown Perth would fully cooperate with the investigation.

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