Australian casino operators, including Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment, have faced accusations that they eagerly facilitated money laundering for years. Now, a new casino money-laundering case has appeared, and a venue may or may not have been involved.
Police have arrested three people who engaged in an elaborate money-laundering scheme, according to The Age. They allegedly operated out of the Greyhounds Entertainment property in the Queensland city of Springvale. The trio reportedly preyed on gamblers who won at slot machines. They strolled the space, waiting for someone to win. That was when they struck.
After finding a big winner, one of the criminals approached the individual and made a deal. If the person signed over the winnings, which the venue paid via check, they would receive cash and a bonus.
Those who agreed followed the instructions handed over the checks and collected their money. The trio then deposited the money in a normal bank account, describing the deposit as winnings from gambling. In actuality, they were laundering money for an organized crime group.
Millions of Dollars Cleared
The relationship between the three and the larger criminal outfit isn’t clear. Raegan Stewart, the acting assistant commissioner for the Australian Federal Police (AFP), only confirmed the connection and that the Greyhounds stalkers laundered millions of dollars.
Following the arrests, police visited the individuals’ homes and commercial property. They found over AU$170,000 (US$114,393) in cash and gold hidden in one of the homes.
The trio will return to court tomorrow to enter their pleas.
Greyhounds is cooperating with the investigation, and no employee at the venue is facing charges. However, this could change if new evidence surfaces. Venue employees could face prosecution, and Greyhounds could potentially lose its license.
Long Time Coming
The bust followed a year-long intelligence-gathering exercise involving several agencies. After the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) received a tip of abnormal activity last year, it began investigating.
AUSTRAC pulled in Australia’s National Australia Bank and the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation. The latter is the predecessor to the current Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission.
This money laundering network would still be operating if it wasn’t for the forensic approach taken by our dedicated team of analysts and investigators, who put countless hours into reviewing data and footage, and conducting our own covert operations,” said VGCCC CEO Annette Kimmitt.
The investigation identified several anomalies. These included that 73% of the checks Greyhounds issued were made out to only a very small handful of names. Those checks had a value of AU$4.7 million (US$3.16 million).
Money laundering is a sensitive subject that has put casinos around the world in a negative light. From Australia to Canada and the US, casinos face accusations of being nothing more than illegal banks for criminals.
It’s difficult to put a figure on the number of money criminals launder. However, the US Treasury believes criminals may clean around $300 billion in money worldwide from illegal activity each year. Bloomberg reported that there are around 50,000 suspicious transactions at US casinos annually last year. This is just a small percentage, given the massive size of the global gaming industry.
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