03 Aug 2020
Crown Resorts opened accounts with the Commonwealth Bank using “misleading” names that masked their use for gambling and accepted high-risk cash deposits, despite ANZ shutting down similar accounts over money laundering concerns, an inquiry has heard.
Crown’s chief legal and regulatory compliance officer Joshua Preston told the NSW government probity inquiry into the James Packer-backed casino group on Friday he could not recall why CBA then also shut down the accounts in late 2019, but it “would not surprise” him if it was also due to fears about dirty cash.
The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s inquiry is investigating revelations by The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes that Crown went into business with “junket” tour operators linked to organised crime and was used to launder suspected drug money.
The inquiry heard Crown used two holdings companies with Crown executives as directors called Southbank Investments and Riverbank Investments, linked to Crown’s Melbourne and Perth casinos respectively, which opened banks accounts for patrons to deposit money into. Once credited to a patron’s Crown account, they could withdraw it as cash, a cheque or as gambling chips.
Mr Preston said the purpose of the holding companies was to give patrons “privacy”, but under questioning by counsel assisting the inquiry, Scott Aspinall, about their “misleading” names, he agreed that hiding the fact money was being transferred to a casino created a “vulnerability” for them to be used for money laundering or theft.
The inquiry heard that in January 2014 ANZ Bank contacted Crown to raise the alarm about a string of large cash deposits made to the Riverbank account at different bank branches across Perth, which Mr Aspinall said was a clear red flag for money laundering.
By Patrick Hatch, The Sydney Morning Herald, 31 July 2020
Read more at The Sydney Morning Herald
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