Austrac urges gambling companies to step up in tackling money laundering

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Austrac urges gambling companies to step up in tackling money laundering
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Landing on the bad side of regulators’ good graces can have damning and lasting consequences. These are the lessons Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment, the country’s two biggest gambling companies, took from their most recent inroad with the law.

Now, Australia’s financial regulator, Austrac, wants to make sure that the gambling industry in the country is actually prepared to meet the required standards and uphold all financial prerequisites.

Austrac head Nicole Rose warned gambling companies that they must ensure that money laundering standards are met in full. Rose urged law enforcement to not be hesitant and act within their full purview if they suspect AML and CFT failings.

As both Crown Resorts and Star Entertainment have had issues upholding these standards to varying degrees, Austrac is aware that the gambling industry in Australia clearly needs further guidance. But the guidance does not mean exemption from responsibilities.

That is why Rose urged everyone to do their best and help maintain Australia’s financial status and preeminence, warning that global regulators may place the entire country on their grey lists – a major reputation blow to an established economy and an OECD member.

Money laundering must be taken with the utmost seriousness, Austrac’s boss said, arguing that executives and people in power in companies should be the ones tasked with creating the environments in which such transgressions do not happen for the first time. But Rose did not just mean Crown or Star Entertainment. She also noted that Tabcorp has also been fined just recently.

"At that time, Austrac had just settled a record $45m penalty with Tabcorp and I thought avoiding this sort of outcome would be an absolute priority for discussion in Australian boardrooms. Of course, as we know now, that has taken some time to transpire," the executive said while addressing the attendees at the Association of Certified Anti-Money Laundering Specialists.

Even during the most recent assessment of the country’s track record with addressing money laundry, which took place in 2016, Australia seemed to already not be doing so well on the whole. With the risks of the country being deemed as not entirely fit to meet global anti-money laundering standards, Austrac has naturally sounded a genuine alarm to impress the urgency of restoring the country’s reputation.

Good steps have already been taken by some local governments which overhauled their gambling laws and are keeping a close eye on casinos, which are believed to be some of the biggest culprits in this matter.

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