Crown in court as AUSTRAC launches civil proceedings

Crown Perth to face civil proceedings in the Federal Court.

AUSTRAC (Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre) has begun civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth for alleged breaches of anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.

AUSTRAC CEO Nicole Rose said Crown failed to meet their AML/CTF obligations making their business and Australia’s financial system vulnerable to criminal exploitation.

“AUSTRAC’s investigation identified poor governance, risk management and failures to have and maintain a compliant AML/CTF program detailing how Crown would identify, mitigate and manage the risk of their products and services being misused for money laundering or terrorism financing,” she said.

“They also failed to carry out appropriate ongoing customer due diligence including on some very high risk customers. This led to widespread and serious non-compliance over a number of years.

“AUSTRAC has taken this strong action to achieve enduring change and ensure that Crown will fully meet their obligations to protect themselves and Australia’s financial system from criminal activity.”

Rose said the absence of appropriate controls and processes meant Crown was unable to appropriately manage high risk customers. This allowed the movement of money in non-transparent ways making Crown vulnerable to criminal exploitation.

“This is an important reminder to all casinos in Australia that they must have a strong anti-money laundering program in place to protect their business and the community from serious and organised crime,” she said.

“Crown is taking steps towards improving its systems, processes and resourcing however there is further work to do and AUSTRAC will continue to work closely with Crown to address ongoing compliance concerns.”

If found guilty, Crown faces a fine that could theoretically exceed $12 billion for the combined breaches, but a smaller penalty is more likely.