The Star Sydney (pictured), a casino complex run by the Star Entertainment Group Ltd in New South Wales, Australia, continued its relationship with Macau-founded junket brand Suncity Group until October 2020, despite an in-house investigator at the casino knowing as early as May 2018, that there were reports of a non-junket player entering a Suncity room at the property and being given AUD45,000 (US$33,543) in cash.
Even in 2019, when news broke of alleged wrongdoing associated with Suncity junket operations at Australian market rival Crown Resorts Ltd – in the Crown Melbourne property – Matt Bekier, The Star group’s chief executive, allegedly misled the media by saying The Star Sydney and Suncity had mutually agreed to shut Suncity’s room, an inquiry was told on Wednesday, according to Australian media reports.
In August 2019, it had been reported that all Suncity junket rooms in the Australian casino market were to close, with Mr Bekier being one of the cited sources.
An inquiry heard on Wednesday that in the case of The Star Sydney, the Suncity presence had merely moved to another room at the property that did not carry Suncity branding.
The claims have been made at a New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) inquiry on the suitability of The Star Sydney to operate a casino licence, and whether it is in the public interest for the licence to continue.
The inquiry heard that Angus Buchanan, a manager at The Star Sydney with responsibilities related to regulatory compliance, had previously worked at the Hong Kong Jockey Club, and while there had written a report completed in 2018 that concluded that Alvin Chau Cheok Wa – the founder of the Suncity brand – was a member of a Chinese criminal organisation called the 14K.
Mr Chau was detained in Macau in November, on suspicion of illegal activities including facilitating overseas gambling by Chinese customers.
The inquiry was told that an internal investigation by the Star group found Suncity was storing large amounts of cash in its gaming room, and staff were frequently exchanging casino chips for cash. But as part of the arrangement with the casino operator, Suncity was prohibited from exchanging any cash for chips and retaining cash from players, it was noted.
In Wednesday’s session, Mr Buchanan said that it “certainly appear[ed]” money laundering was taking place in the junket room at the The Star Sydney.
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”The decision of Pagcor finding Suncity Group Manila and Mr Chau unsuitable is currently in effect”
Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp