Crown Resorts, Star Entertainment Group, and SkyCity Entertainment have each been notified of “potential serious non-compliance” by Australia’s anti-money laundering agency.
The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre has written to each of the casino operators after identifying potential non-compliance with the Australian Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006, and Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules Instrument 2007.
Local media outlets report that fines are the most likely outcome of the ongoing investigations, and it remains to be seen what complications this could add to the Star’s ongoing merger aspirations with its under pressure counterpart Crown Resorts.
The battle to acquire Crown has stemmed from the group being deemed unfit to operate the $2.2bn Crown Sydney Hotel Resort following a New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry which cited poor corporate governance, deficient risk-management structures and processes, and a poor corporate culture.
This has seen subsequent investigations launched within the states of Victoria and Western Australia, where the organisation also boasts operations.
The AUSTRAC enforcement operations, which concern Crown Perth, SkyCity Adelaide, and The Star Sydney, are said to regard the management of customers “identified as high risk and politically exposed”.
Each organisation concerned notes that AUSTRAC has made it clear that it has not made a decision regarding the appropriate regulatory response that it may apply, adding that they will “fully cooperate with any investigations”.
Last month, Crown Resorts unanimously rejected a takeover proposal from the Blackstone Group, deeming the offer an undervaluation and “not in the best interests” of its shareholders.
This appeared to hand the advantage to Star Entertainment Group, which was requested to provide “certain information to allow the Crown board to better understand various preliminary matters” after tabling a merger offer earlier in the month.
Star believes that merging the two businesses would deliver between $150m to $200m of cost synergies per annum, with an estimated net value of $2bn.