Star Entertainment Group announces further board changes

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

The Star Entertainment Group has accepted the resignations of Harry Theodore, Greg Hawkins and Paula Martin.

Australia.- Star Entertainment Group continues to reshuffle its board amid the New South Wales regulator’s inquiry into its Sydney casino. It’s 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.

The Star Entertainment Group said all three will work with the executive chairman to transition their responsibilities in an orderly manner. 

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.

In late March, Matt Bekier stepped down as managing director and CEO of The Star Entertainment Group. Speaking to the inquiry last month, he said he was disappointed by the Sydney casino’s management and blamed the failure of the international VIP business on the venue’s “subculture”.

Star senior manager misappropriated gambling money, inquiry hears

The New South Wales inquiry has heard that a senior manager allegedly transferred more than AU$13m in gaming funds from junkets into his own account before “disappearing” in 2020.

Meanwhile, Marcus Lim, another member of staff in the VIP area, was accused of receiving kickbacks and making corrupt payments. However, despite an investigation, Lim was allowed to remain on “gardening leave” for six months.

Counsel assisting Naomi Sharp SC, asked Bekier if the company had tried to get rid of Lim quietly to avoid making any disclosures of seriously inappropriate conduct of a senior manager at Star Entertainment group. Bekier denied the accusation but admited that the VIP team was the most vulnerable to exploitation due to its massive turnover. Bekier rejected suggestions that VIP team misconduct had been “out of control”.

Sharp said: “Just at the point in the business where the flow of money was at its highest, and where the [anti-money laundering] risks were the greatest, and where the integrity risks to the casino were the greatest, senior management completely dropped the ball … didn’t it?”

Bekier replied: “I wouldn’t agree with the characterisation that we completely dropped the ball.”

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The Star Entertainment Group