Victoria’s royal commission into the James Packer-backed casino giant heard on Monday that suspected money laundering had been identified in 14 new bank accounts that were not examined in last year’s damning Bergin inquiry.
But commissioner Ray Finkelstein, QC, will have to decide on Crown’s suitability to hold its Melbourne casino licence without knowing the full extent of its money laundering problems, the inquiry was told, because the company delayed launching an investigation of its bank account until February this year.
“Had Crown started that review any earlier than February this year, the results would be known to this commission,” counsel assisting Meg O’Sullivan said.
Crown had delayed launching a full review of its accounts despite its banks warning of suspicious transactions in 2014; reports in this masthead in August 2019 about money laundering in its accounts; and advice from an external expert to launch a full review in 2019 and again in late 2020.
Last year’s Bergin inquiry in NSW found Crown was unfit to run its new Sydney casino, with a key reason being that it facilitated money laundering through two patron deposit bank accounts held through shell companies called Southbank Investments and Riverbank Investments.
Ms O’Sullivan said the review currently underway by Deloitte into Crown’s other accounts would reveal if money laundering in those accounts were “just the tip of the iceberg”.
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