Star director might have misled shareholders, inquiry hears

The company remains under the scrutiny of a public inquiry.
The company remains under the scrutiny of a public inquiry.

Star Entertainment director Ben Heap has been accused of misleading shareholders by saying that media reports about the company were untruthful.

Australia.- In the latest testimonies at the ILGA’s public inquiry into the Star Entertainment Group, a company director was accused of having misled shareholders regarding accusations about the company’s links to organised crime.

On October 11, Ben Heap had told shareholders that media outlets the Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and The Age had exaggerated accusations against the company when they reported that the casino operator was implicated in suspected money laundering, organised crime and fraud. Despite Heap’s statements, Star shares lost 23 per cent of their value on the same day.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Casper Conde asked Heap this week about his claims and if he had misled the company’s shareholders. Heap denied that and said the media had sensationalized the accusations and that their claims did not adequately reflect how Star Entertainment considered the situation.

Star Entertainment Group has recently accepted the resignations of three more executives: chief financial officer Harry Theodore, chief casino officer (NSW) Greg Hawkins and chief legal and risk officer and company secretary Paula Martin.

In the NSW inquiry, Hawkins had been questioned about an alleged scheme to pay less taxes by migrating players to its international refund programme. He denied the claims and said the casino operator did not want the practice to happen collectively because it damaged the venue’s commercial standing as profits from local customers were often higher than those from rebate players.

Martin also appeared at the inquiry. She admitted that she could have done more regarding money laundering at the Sydney casino. She also agreed the company misled National Australia Bank about the use of China UnionPay cards at Star Entertainment venues.

The Star suspends all domestic and international rebate play programmes

As previously reported by Focus Gaming News, The Star’s board has resolved to immediately suspend rebate programmes for both domestic and international players across all its casinos until further notice. The company said it will work with gaming regulators to address various identified risks as part of ongoing reviews of systems and processes. 

The company hired external advisors and continues a programme of work to further those systems and processes while cooperating fully with the review. 

The company also reconfirmed a commitment it made in October 2020 not to deal with junket operators. It said the suspension of rebate programmes is not expected to have any material impact on earnings for the fiscal year 2022 due to the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

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GAMBLING REGULATION The Star Entertainment Group