Crown sat on AML recommendations for over a year, inquiry hears


Neil Jeans, principal at the anti-money laundering consultancy Initialism, advised Crown Resorts about suspicious transactions, but the company took 13 months to act.

Australia.- As Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resorts continues, new details emerge on the casino operator’s attitude to money-laundering risks.

Neil Jeans, principal at the anti-money laundering consultancy Initialism, has told the inquiry that he advised former chief executive Ken Barton about money laundering risks and suggested a full review of all transactions. However, the company did not act until over a year later, he said.

Crown Resorts CEO and managing director Ken Barton stepped down following the ILGA’s enquiry into the company’s fitness to hold a casino licence.

In her report following the New South Wales ILGA’s inquiry into Crown, Commissioner Patricia Bergin wrote that Barton had shown he was not up to the job.

Jeans’ said he made his recommendations after a media investigation revealed money laundering through Crown Resorts casinos.

At that time, the company issued an advertisement signed by all 11 Crown directors, including Crown’s executive chairman, Helen Coonan, attacking the investigation. Coonan later admitted the advertisement was inappropriate.

Jeans said Initialism had discovered that a large sum of money went through accounts split up into smaller transactions to avoid a disclosure from the federal financial security agency AUSTRAC.

The principal said: “Each of those transactions appears to be trying to avoid the threshold of structuring.”

He also said that Crown “limited” the scope of the investigation to three Australian dollar accounts.

A few days ago Crown’s anti-money laundering manager Nick Stokes said he tried to raise the issue of money-laundering risks and prevention strategies but was not listened to.

Stokes also said he tried to expand the anti-money laundering team at Crown Resorts, which only had three staff members, but former legal chief Joshua Preston said it wasn’t necessary.

However, Stokes said things had changed at Crown Resorts, and that he now has a team of 20 anti-money laundering staff.

Stokes said: “I have seen that attitude change quite considerably to the point where the business now is very proactive in taking on those first-line responsibilities… we are looking to build the team further.”

Crown’s former legal head, Joshua Preston, stepped down from the company after telling the NSW Bergin inquiry he was unaware whether junket operators were linked to organised crime.

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