The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC), Australia’s national corporate regulator, is suing 11 current and former elite members of The Star Entertainment Group’s team. This includes several directors and officers who, the ASIC argues, were largely responsible for the company’s AML breaches.
Star Entertainment Became Notorious for Its Failings
The corporate authority alleges that the 11 Star members in question breached their duties under section 180 of Australia’s Corporations Act. As a result, they channeled the numerous AML failings Star has been accused of, sending the company on a downward spiral of incompliance.
As a quick recap, Star was under fire for its failings after investigations found out that the company had deep ties with the controversial Chinese junket Suncity and even allowed it to run an unlicensed gambling cage on the premises of its Sydney casino. In addition, Star Entertainment was found guilty of allegedly allowing dangerous foreign agents and high-rollers to launder money in its casinos.
ASIC’s action now targets the people it deemed responsible for the aforementioned failings. Sarah Court, deputy chair of the regulator, said:
ASIC alleges that Star’s board and executives failed to give sufficient focus to the risk of money laundering and criminal associations, which are inherent in the operation of a large casino with an international customer base.
ASIC Sues 11 Star Directors and Officers
The ASIC claims that eight members of Star’s board, namely ex-chair John O’Neill, ex-MD and CEO Matthias Bekier, Kathleen Lahey, Richard Sheppard, Gerard Bradley, Sally Pitkin, Benjamin Heap and Zlatko Todorcevski, were responsible for the failings. According to the regulator, the aforementioned board members helped Star deepen its ties with individuals with reported criminal links and didn’t assess the dangers of dealing with them. The regulator also accused the members of not taking action once the money laundering matters were brought up.
In addition to the board members, Bekier and a few Star executives, namely the ex-company secretary Paula Martin and the former chief casino officer Greg Hawkins have breached their duties, the authority insists. According to the ASIC, the three executives did not adequately address the money laundering risks arising from dealing with Suncity and its funder and continued to deal with them despite the criminal reports. In addition, the three executives failed to escalate money laundering issues to the board.
Furthermore, Martin and ex-CFO Harry Theodore may have knowingly provided misleading statements to National Australia Bank about the use of China Union Pay International (CUP) debit cards on The Star’s premises. Despite CUP’s prohibition, Star Entertainment allowed players to use such cards for gambling.
ASIC’s chairman, Joe Longo, spoke on the matter. He said that directors and officers are a vital part of an Australian company. Because of that, they should understand the operations of their company and be able to assess risks. Longo concluded that such workers should bring an inquiring mind instead of being negligent.
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