ClubsNSW whistleblower reveals the ‘alarming’ scale of money laundering in pokies rooms at local clubs and pubs
14 Feb 2020

A whistleblower and former employee of ClubsNSW has claimed that money laundering through poker machines is rife in pubs and clubs across the country.

In an exclusive interview with the ABC, Troy Stolz, a former ClubsNSW anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism finance (AML/CTF) compliance auditor, said that the scale of the problem was both “massive” and “alarming”.

“The crooks are going [into pubs and clubs] with their drug money and putting it in the machines and the crooks are cleaning it,” he said.

In a speech to Federal Parliament earlier Thursday, independent MP Andrew Wilkie said up to 95 per cent of clubs in New South Wales were “operating illegally” by not complying with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

“No-one is doing anything about it,” he said.

Mr Wilkie said the “alarming information” came from a 2019 ClubsNSW board paper provided to him by a whistleblower.

Mr Wilkie requested leave to table the ClubsNSW board document in Parliament, but leave was not granted.

“Deputy Speaker … they’re running a protection racket for the gambling industry,” he called out after the decision.

Mr Stolz, who worked for ClubsNSW for nine years and left his job in September last year, told the ABC he was the source of the leaked document.

ClubsNSW represents over 1,000 RSL, sporting and other clubs in the state, which has around half of Australia’s poker machines.

A ClubsNSW spokesperson described Thursday’s speech as “more anti-club hysteria from Andrew Wilkie”.

“If Andrew Wilkie has evidence of a licensed venue not meeting its AML/CTF obligations then he should raise the matter with AUSTRAC so the regulator can properly investigate,” the spokesperson said.

How criminals launder money using the pokies

The poker machine industry is one of the sectors of the economy most vulnerable to organised crime.

Neil Jeans, an independent consultant in anti-money laundering compliance, has previously estimated that around $65-75 billion worth of cash goes through the pokies across Australia each year.

Mr Stolz explained how low and mid-tier drug operations were exploiting club pokies rooms, by depositing large sums of cash into poker machines, playing for a short period of time, then withdrawing the laundered money.

“With criminal organisations or individuals exploiting clubs and pubs … they’re willing to lose 20-30 per cent of what they want to clean at the end of the day to get that winning cheque or that piece of paper that validates where they’ve got that money from,” he said.

An estimated 770 clubs in NSW have more than 15 poker machines and are therefore considered “full reporting entities” under the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act.

These clubs are required to make reports for transactions over $10,000 to the regulator AUSTRAC.

Mr Stolz said that most launderers worked just below the threshold for what might raise suspicions for large transactions.

By Steve Cannane, Kyle Taylor and Clare Blumer, Australian Broadcasting Corporation, 14 February 2020

Read more at ABC News

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