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AUSTRAC commences civil penalty proceedings against Star Entertainment entities

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against The Star Pty Limited and The Star Entertainment QLD Limited.

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The proceedings involve alleged serious and systemic non-compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.

They come after an industry-wide compliance campaign from AUSTRAC that began in September 2019, leading to the opening of an enforcement investigation into The Star Pty Limited in June 2021.

The investigation was expanded to include The Star Entertainment Qld Limited and other Star entities in January of this year. AUSTRAC has worked closely with state and federal agencies with a regulatory interest in the Star Entities throughout the investigation, including the New South Wales and Queensland gaming regulators and the Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC).

AUSTRAC’s extensive allegations include that the Star Entities failed to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks they faced, failed to establish an appropriate framework for Board and senior management oversight of the AML/CTF programmes, and did not conduct appropriate ongoing customer due diligence on a range of customers who presented higher money laundering risks, among many others.

“Criminals will always seek to exploit the financial system to launder their money and harm the community,” said AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose. “Businesses, as the front line of defence of our financial system and our communities, are often the first to be alerted to criminal activity.

“AUSTRAC’s investigation identified a multitude of issues including poor governance and failures of risk management and to have and maintain a compliant AML/CTF programme.

“The Star Entities also failed to carry out appropriate ongoing customer due diligence which has led to widespread and serious non-compliance over a number of years.”

AUSTRAC noted that whether a civil penalty order is made and any amount are matters that are before the court.

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