SYDNEY, AAP – A senior Star Entertainment manager in charge of preventing financial crime inside the gambling giant’s Sydney operations will testify at a casino probe.
The NSW gaming regulator’s inquiry continues on Thursday, with ongoing evidence from Star general manager, financial crime and investigations, Kevin Houlihan.
Mr Houlihan has already testified his department launched an internal investigation at Star’s Sydney casino into private gaming room Salon 95, which was exclusively accessed by Macau-based junket operator Suncity.
The inquiry has been told that Mr Houlihan, a former police officer, became aware of bags of cash inside Salon 95, leading to concerns about potential “rogue” Suncity employees and suspicions of possible money laundering.
It was told Mr Houlihan was given a report by the Hong Kong Jockey Club that Suncity had alleged Triad links, but that the Star had its own reports “that may have been contradictory”.
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Star was also made aware that a connection to the junket was allegedly linked to illegal bookmaking, drug trafficking and large-scale money laundering.
“It was of concern,” Mr Houlihan said.
The inquiry has previously been told the controversial VIP gaming room was part of the casino’s so-called “international rebate business”, known as junkets, and that an “unlawful” cage was set up inside the wagering salon.
Evidence at the inquiry has also been given on how China Union Pay – a Chinese financial services company – banned gambling transactions on its debit cards, but that Star was able to disguise wagering as hotel accommodation charges.
The inquiry is examining whether the Sydney casino has been infiltrated by criminal activity, and if its casino licence should be withdrawn.
It has prompted the resignation of Star’s chief executive Matt Bekier, and prompted calls for a similar investigation of the company’s licence in Queensland.
Other witnesses due to be called include general counsels Oliver White and Andrew Power, and chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin.
Mark Walker, senior vice president of premium services operations at Star Entertainment is also due to testify.
The inquiry hearings are due to conclude on April 8.