Star CEO questioned KPMG report on money laundering risk, inquiry hears

The ILGA's public hearings into The Star Sydney started last week.
The ILGA's public hearings into The Star Sydney started last week.

Paul McWilliams, former chief risk officer has told New South Wales’ inquiry that Star CEO Matt Bekier called the report into question.

Australia.- The second day of the ILGA’s public hearings into the Star Entertainment Group in New South Wales saw Paul McWilliams, former chief risk officer at the company, give testimony about a 2018 report by global audit firm KPMG. Williams said Star CEO Matt Bekier had criticised the report.

The KPMG audit reportedly found that Star’s risk inspections used to detect possible money laundering and terrorist financing were insufficient. McWilliams said that at a tense audit committee meeting in 2018, Bekier had questioned the factual accuracy of KPMG’s findings.

McWilliams recalled: “It started with Mr Bekier arriving … and making a show of throwing on to the table what I assume was the executive summary of this report and saying, ‘I haven’t seen this.’ Then the discussion was along the lines of that it was unacceptable for the report to be prepared in this way and it was wrong in some material respects.”

McWilliams said there was a lot of pressure on him and colleague Tarnya O’Neil, who was the head of internal audit. He agreed that the report found fundamental flaws, including that Star’s risk assessments did not take into account the financing of terrorism. The review found that junket operators had not been assessed for money laundering or terrorist financing risk.

McWilliams said he agreed that junkets posed a high risk of money laundering because the amounts involved were large and the source of the funds was not always easy to identify.

Meanwhile, Alexander Graham, a KPMG employee who attended the meeting with Bekier and McWilliams said there was hostility towards him and his colleagues.

Graham stated: “The CEO was turning over pages, pointing to things, saying this is wrong, turning the page, that is wrong, doing that for a sustained time, and we tried to understand what the specific points the CEO believed were wrong and we just weren’t getting the details.”

See also: Star deputy treasurer misled National Australia Bank, inquiry hears

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GAMBLING REGULATION The Star Entertainment Group