Star ‘limited’ on money laundering rules | Lithgow Mercury

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A Star Entertainment Group executive responsible for providing financial advice to the gaming giant’s international arm has only a “very limited” understanding of Australia’s anti-money laundering regime, an inquest has found. Star’s chief financial and commercial officer, Michael Whytcross, was questioned on Tuesday during the inquest, which is examining The Star Sydney’s suitability for holding a casino licence. The NSW Gaming Regulator is investigating whether Sydney Casino has been subject to criminal infiltration and whether the site’s casino license should be revoked. Asked by Assistant Solicitor Naomi Sharp SC about his understanding of the AML/CFT legal framework in Australia, Mr Whytcross said: “I have a very limited understanding of the framework.” “Is this the case even if you work to provide advice to international companies?” Mrs. Sharp asked. “Yes, that’s correct,” he replied. Mr Whytcross, a former employee of KPMG, PWC and Crown Resorts, said he was not concerned about his understanding given “additional expertise within The Star”. He said he had completed half-hour online anti-money laundering training sessions at Star Entertainment after joining Crown Resorts, where similar training was “pretty sketchy”. Before moving to Sydney in 2019, Mr Whytcross operated out of Star Entertainment’s Hong Kong office where he reported for a time to then President of International Sales, John Chong. In Hong Kong, Mr Whytcross conducted a “high-level” independent review of Hong Kong’s online anti-money laundering framework, including an “analysis” of the legislation. “Aren’t you very familiar with Hong Kong’s anti-money laundering regime?” Mrs. Sharp asked. “Yeah, I wouldn’t have described it as deep familiarization,” he said, conceding his knowledge of the Hong Kong regime was also very limited. Asked about a confidential internal casino document, he said he didn’t know what ‘shadow banking’ was referring to, but admitted he could be referring to ‘underground banking’. ‘Are you doing your best to help Mr. Bell at this time, Mr. Whytcross,’ Ms Sharp asked. “Yes, I am,” he replied. Also on Tuesday, the inquest heard that The Star had allowed a high roller billionaire to use a controversial Chinese debit card scheme despite violating the gambling venue’s standard operating procedure. Chinese-born Australian real estate Phillip Dong Fang Lee was allowed to use a China Union Pay debit card at the casino from 2014, in violation of casino rules allowing the card to be used only by “international discount players “. The inquiry heard overwhelming evidence about the casino’s practices, prompting the resignation this week of Star Entertainment chief executive Matt Bekier. The investigation was prompted by reports accusing the casino operator of enabling suspicions of money laundering, organized crime, fraud and foreign interference at its gaming facilities, including its Sydney casino . The investigation is continuing. Australian Associated Press


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