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The investigation of SkyCity Adelaide’s capacity to hold a casino license has been “put on hold”. At the same time, the firm faces Federal Court allegations of “serious and systematic” compliance failure with Australian AML laws.
For the last seven months, Brian Martin KC, the Retired South Australian Supreme Court Judge, has been investigating SkyCity Adelaide’s capacity to hold a casino license.
The federal government’s financial crimes watchdog, AUSTRAC, has launched an investigation into SkyCity Adelaide’s compliance with Australian AML laws.
Martin was due to provide a written report of his findings to Liquor and Gambling Commissioner Dini Soulio on Feb 1st, 2023. But after AUSTRAC revealed the inquiry on SkyCity Adelaide over alleged “serious and systemic” non-compliance, the findings of Martin’s review had been complicated.
Suolio stated that Martin advised him to question whether SkyCity Adelaide could hold a South Australian casino license could not be determined “reliably” until the AUSTRAC’s federal court proceedings were resolved.
“While Mr Martin’s investigation has been separate from the proceedings initiated by AUSTRAC in the Federal Court against SkyCity, there is clearly some overlap that will need to be considered,” Soulio said in a statement.
AUSTRAC’s 800-page statement of claim carries several allegations against SkyCity Adelaide, mentioning breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006.
The claim in Federal Court also highlighted contraventions of Section 81 of the Act; the AML/CFT requirements are “too numerous to quantify.”
It also alleged 124 infringements of section 36 of the Act that requires casinos to conduct the ongoing CDD for the risks associated with AML and CTF. AUSTRAC’s allegations claim that the casino provided services to 59 customers for whom “high ML/TF (money laundering/terrorism financing) risks were indicated.”
SkyCity Adelaide made $74 million in losses from these 59 customers, said AUSTRAC. The watchdog also claims that one customer, named “Customer 11” was an “immediate family member of a person holding a prominent public position in a foreign government body.”
On January 31st 2023, a day before Martin had to submit his inquiry, Peter Malinauskas, the Premier Australian politician, spoke to the reporters, stating that the government was ready to make “necessary changes” to the casino pending the outcome of the review.
“We expect SkyCity to operate with integrity and abide by the law,” Malinauskas said at the time.
“I believe that the management that is in place is committed to that exercise, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be subject to serious scrutiny, because it is a privilege owning and operating a casino”
“We expect them to have the best interests of the South Australian community at heart and the Brian Martin view allows a degree of examination around that,” added Malinauskas.