John O’Neill will assume the role of interim CEO of the Star Entertainment Group immediately.
Australia.- The Star Entertainment Group has named John O’Neill AO as executive chairman on an interim basis. The appointment comes four days after Matt Bekier stepped down as managing director and CEO of the company following revelations in the inquiry being held by the New South Wales regulator, the ILGA.
The Star Entertainment Group said Bekier will remain available in the short term to provide handover assistance as the board requests. O’Neill will lead the company as executive chairman until a new managing director and CEO is appointed. The Star said the board will embark on a renewal programme in a timely manner.
Last week, the ILGA’s inquiry, which is being led by Adam Bell SC, heard that Bekier had criticised a KPMG audit that found Star’s risk inspections on possible money laundering and terrorist financing were insufficient. Bekier has told the board that he was accountable for the effectiveness and adequacy of the company’s processes, policies, people and culture and that it was right for him to take responsibility.
The Star Entertainment faces class action from shareholders
Investors in the Star Entertainment Group have filed a class action lawsuit amid the heavy public scrutiny of the group’s Sydney casino operations. Investors are seeking compensation for alleged misleading or deceptive representations made by Star regarding its compliance with regulatory obligations.
The lawsuit alleges that Star led investors to believe the group was a model casino operator when in fact it failed to curb corruption, money laundering and bribery. Star’s stock price fell by more than 25 per cent after media reports of money laundering and other misconduct in 2021, wiping more than $1bn off the company’s market value.
Lead plaintiff David Lynch said: “As an investor, I expect that licensed operators that are publicly listed will operate following the law and that there are appropriate checks and balances to ensure they do so. I am dismayed by the apparent scale of Star’s misconduct that is now being revealed in the public hearings.”
Senior associate Ben Zocco told ABC: “When investors purchase shares in a listed company, they are entitled to assume that all of the material information relevant to its financial position had been disclosed to the market.”