Federal judge loses patience with AUSTRAC’s Crown Resorts prosecution

AUSTRAC commenced civil penalty proceedings last March.
AUSTRAC commenced civil penalty proceedings last March.

The judge has criticised AUSTRAC for agreeing to Crown’s proposed timeframe for admissions.

Australia.- Justice Michael Lee has criticised AUSTRAC’s drawn-out handling of its prosecution of Crown Resorts for anti-money laundering (AML) failings. He’s ordered the two parties to reach an agreed statement of facts with a senior registrar by April 17.

Lee questioned whether AUSTRAC was serious about prosecuting the case after it agreed to a request from Crown to wait until May to settle on agreed facts and admissions and for Crown to prepare a defence. That would be 15 months after it commenced proceedings against Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth for systemic non-compliance with AML and counter-terrorism financing laws.

He said: “The Congress of Vienna took nine months to talk about the future of Europe, you’ve had 12 months to talk about admissions. I’m not going to give any more time for there to be chit-chat between solicitors. We’re going to get the matter on.

He added: “I just find it astounding. Why on earth would a regulator agree to a timetable like that? It’s in the public interests that these proceedings be determined and be determined with alacrity.

“It’s already meandered for a year. I just want to know whether the regulator in this case is serious about running the case or not? Because if they’re serious about running this case, I do not understand why they’re suggesting it’d be 15 months before the court starts managing the case.”

Lee ordered Crown to file a brief response to AUSTRAC’s allegations by February 27. The next case management hearing is scheduled for April 28. 

Crown Resorts posts loss of US$632.18m for FY22

Crown Resorts has shared its financial results for the financial year 2022. It’s reported an AU$945.4m (US$632.18m) loss while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) was negative AU$699.6m.

Revenue was up 20 per cent year-on-year to AU$1.9bn (US$1.27bn). Crown Melbourne’s revenue increased from AU$567.5m to AU$923.8m and Crown Sydney’s from AU$68.4m to AU$113m, while Crown Perth’s revenue fell from AU$740.9m to AU$731.7m.

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AUSTRAC Crown Resorts