Melbourne Royal Crown Commission hears casino giant sit on recommendations to investigate money laundering
Crown Resorts has followed recommendations that it should investigate its bank accounts for money laundering for more than a year.
Royal Commission of Inquiry into Crown Melbourne overheard gaming giant’s anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism adviser Initialism talk to the company about possible ‘structuring’ and ‘hello smurf’ coming up in the accounts of its subsidiaries 13 months before the company acts.
Crown in December 2019 closed both subsidiaries Southbank and Riverbank Investments after it was revealed, there was evidence of money laundering in the accounts.
Initialism Director Neil Jeans, who appeared as a witness on Tuesday, said he briefed former chief executive Ken Barton of the accounts and recommended a full review of all transactions hitting Crown’s accounts.
Mr Jeans said he told Crown to review the accounts in light of media allegations of money laundering in 2019; However, the casino giant only acted on this advice in mid-2020, when the accounts became a focal point of the NSW Bergin investigation into Crown Sydney.
Initialism and Auditor Grant Thornton have been commissioned by Crown to investigate suspicious transactions made within the casino.
Mr Jeans said there were instances of structuring where a large sum of money was split into separate transactions to avoid the $ 10,000 disclosure threshold.
He noted that Crown should have reported that someone was depositing cash at separate bank branches within a 2 km radius.
“I think the data in this area clearly indicates structuring as there are several below-threshold transactions that are spread across a series of ANZ branches over a short period,” Mr. Jeans said.
“Each of these transactions seems to try to avoid the threshold of structuring.”
Structuring is a form of money laundering in which a tainted amount of money is deposited or transferred below the disclosure threshold, while cuckoo smurf is a term to describe a scenario in which a legitimate transaction is hijacked by individuals. illegitimate funds to hide the fundamental purpose of money.
Attorney assisting Meg O’Sullivan during questioning of Mr Jeans said it was ‘extraordinary’ for Crown to allow funds to enter their bank accounts and then be withdrawn at the casino point of sale without any checks. identity.
“It strikes me as extraordinary that an anonymous person can put money in a Crown bank account,” she said.
“Crown then assigns it to a particular client’s deposit account and then releases it at the end of the casino without that client being present.”
Mr. Jeans admitted that this was “unusual” activity in the handling of funds.
Initialism and Mr Thornton were given limited leeway in their investigations and were only allowed to analyze three accounts.
During Monday’s hearings, it was revealed that the scale of money laundering through Crown accounts could have been more prevalent than the Southbank and Riverbank accounts.
A separate report from Deloitte found that 14 other accounts had evidence of suspicious transactions potentially linked to financial crimes.
Ms O’Sullivan asked Mr Jeans if he believed that Initialism and Mr Thornton’s forensic analysis underestimated the extent of money laundering on Crown’s account.
Mr Jeans said it was a “difficult question to answer” without seeing all of the data for each bank account.
“If there was similar activity on these bank accounts, then, yes, you would be right, that would be underestimating,” he said.