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Australia casino firm Star to be fined $62 mln following...

por Dewitt Brookman (2022-11-02)

SYDNEY, Oct 17 (Reuters) - Australian casino firm Star Entertainment Group will be fined A$100 million ($62 million) after an inquiry found it failed to prevent money laundering and criminal activity in its Sydney casino, the Sydney Morning Herald reported.

The New South Wales Independent Casino Commission (NICC) will hand down the decision on Monday, the newspaper reported on Sunday, citing unidentified sources.

NICC and Star did not immediately respond to a request seeking comment.

In a report published last month, the NICC said huge amounts of money were disguised by the casino as hotel expenses and vast sums of cash evaded anti-money laundering protocols several times, mostly through a secret room with a second cash cage.

The report said it had identified "systemic governance, risk and cultural failures" at the Sydney casino of Star, Australia's second-biggest casino operator.

Star has accepted the findings of the inquiry but had said it should be permitted to continue operating under "strict supervision" as it has developed a remediation plan, outlining actions to address "root-cause failings".

Neighbouring Queensland state this month declared Star was unsuitable for a gambling licence after an inquiry found it concealed illegal Chinese wagering payments and lured problem gamblers.

Australia's casino sector was put under intense scrutiny over the last three years after media reports accused Star's larger rival Crown Resorts Ltd of money laundering, prompting some states to launch inquiries.

Since 2021, both Star and Crown Resorts, recently bought by Blackstone Inc, have been deemed unfit for a gambling licence in every state they operate, although neither company has so far been prohibited from operating in any jurisdiction. ($1 = 1.6113 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Renju Jose, editing by Deepa Babington)