Victoria’s Royal Commission has heard that Crown Resorts may have accepted credit card payments in exchange for gaming chips or cash at its Melbourne hotel desk venue between 2012 and 2016.
Australia.- Steven Blackburn, Crown Resorts’ chief financial crimes officer, has told Victoria’s Royal Commission that a review of credit card transactions would find indications of money laundering.
Blackburn said that the total value of credit card payments taken by the casino operator could total more than the AU$160m (US$119.7m). He said senior managers should have known the practice could be used for money laundering.
Former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein, who’s leading the inquiry, said the practice of processing payments through the hotel desk and issuing fake hotel invoices was no accident.
He said: “The whole thing was a fraudulent scam from the outset and everybody involved would have known that.”
In May, auditors Deloitte started to review almost 50 bank accounts for evidence of suspicious payments potentially linked to money laundering. A preliminary report suggested a large sum of money had been divided across 14 accounts to avoid the AU$10,000 disclosure threshold.
Deloitte is also focusing on so-called patron accounts, used by Crown Resorts to allow customers to deposit money for use at casinos. It says these accounts could potentially be used for money laundering.
Blackburn however, said that Crown’s promotion of credit card facilities to Chinese visitors stopped in 2016 after 19 Crown employees were arrested in China.
The judge leading the state of Victoria’s inquiry was originally due to release his report by August 1, but Finkelstein has ordered an extension to the inquiry up to October 15.
He also asked for an increase in the commission’s funding from AU$10m to AU$19.75m to continue investigating Crown Resorts suitability to maintain its licence for its Melbourne casino.