Australia: Crown Perth money laundering ‘misfires’ could have happened up to August 2020

The same types of transactions identified as money laundering in Crown’s operations could have been made through other casino accounts up until at least August 2020, the Perth Casino Royal Commission has heard.

Joshua Preston, Crown Perth’s former chief legal officer and anti-money laundering compliance officer, took to the stand on the commission’s 19th day of hearings, where he faced questions about the structure of the casino’s operations and its audit and security procedures.

Mr Preston was blasted in New South Wales’ Bergin inquiry for not stamping out money laundering at the casino through bank accounts attached to Crown subsidiaries Southbank and WA-based Riverbank Investments.

The Bergin inquiry found Crown Perth did nothing about suspicious transactions under the mandatory $10,000 reporting limit being made into an ANZ account managed by Riverbank Investments for high-rollers in 2014.

Multiple transactions under mandatory reporting limits, known as ‘cuckoo smurfing’, often indicate money laundering.

During the NSW inquiry and again during Monday’s questioning, Mr Preston said red flags were not raised because casino floor staff did not enter individual transactions into their patron management software – known as SYCO – but rather combined them.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Michael Feutrill SC said as a consequence of this aggregation, the anti-money laundering team would only see a total deposit figure that was less likely to raise any concerns, which he described as a “misfire of the system”.

The Riverbank account was closed in 2019 and Mr Preston said it was a “serious failing, full stop”.

But under further questioning, Mr Preston conceded similar transactions could have taken place into other Crown accounts until at least August 2020, eight months after the Bergin inquiry began.

“As of August 2020, Crown Perth continued to operate bank accounts, although the name Riverbank Investments was not involved in those bank accounts the same kind of transaction could take place in any bank account, couldn’t it?” Mr Feutrill asked.

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