Crown to lay down $450m for money laundering breach

Tara Cosoleto |

Crown has agreed to the penalty with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.
Crown has agreed to the penalty with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre.

Casino giant Crown will pay a $450 million penalty after it failed to comply with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. 

An agreement focussed on Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth has been reached with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre. 

It will be up to the federal court justice to hand down the agreed penalty. A court hearing has been set down for July 10 and 11.

The financial intelligence agency launched legal proceedings in March last year after its investigation identified poor governance and risk management failures at Crown.

In reaching Tuesday’s agreement, Crown admitted to not having appropriate systems and controls in place to mitigate and manage the money laundering and terrorism financing risks.

The casino giant also acknowledged it did not have an appropriate transaction monitoring program and higher risk customers were not subjected to extra scrutiny.

Crown Resorts chief executive Ciaran Carruthers apologised for the company’s failings, describing them as unacceptable.

“The company that committed these unacceptable, historic breaches is far removed from the company that exists today,” he said.

Crown was committed to harm minimisation, Mr Carruthers said, and was already delivering reforms.

“We will continue to invest in developing a sophisticated and robust framework, supported by the right capabilities to combat this illegal behaviour,” he said.

AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose said the casino sector was at risk of exploitation by organised criminals seeking to clean their dirty money.

“Crown’s contraventions… meant that a range of obviously high-risk practices, behaviours and customer relationships were allowed to continue unchecked for many years,” she said.

The agency will work closely with Crown to ensure its systems were compliant and fit for purpose, Ms Rose said.

The Alliance for Gambling Reform welcomed the penalty, saying it was a watershed moment that highlighted the value of a national regulator.

But chief executive Carol Bennett said governments needed to invest more in reducing gambling harm.

“This $450m would fund around ten years of specialist gambling treatment, research, support for people harmed by gambling, policy development and advocacy,” she said.

“It could also underwrite some sporting clubs and others moving away from gambling sponsorship – just as governments did when tobacco advertising was banned.”