AUSTRAC and Crown Resorts Reaches AU$450M Settlement

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Crown Resorts, one of Australia's leading casino operators, has reached an agreement with the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC). The settlement is for allegations of breaches in anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) regulations. The settlement amount is set at AU$450 million ($293.4 million), pending a court hearing scheduled for June 10-11.

The joint submissions filed by Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth with the Federal Court of Australia highlight Crown's agreement with AUSTRAC that the proposed penalty is appropriate given the circumstances. AUSTRAC's CEO, Nicole Rose, emphasized that the casino sector has become a target for criminals seeking to launder money acquired through illicit activities such as drug sales, scams, and even human trafficking.

Crown Resorts' contraventions of the AML/CTF Act allowed high-risk practices, behaviors, and customer relationships to persist unchecked for years, according to Rose. However, she acknowledged that the casino operator has taken steps to improve its approach to managing money laundering and terrorism financing risks, as well as investing in financial crime compliance.

The agreement requires Crown Resorts to admit to several AML/CTF violations at Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth. These violations include failure to properly assess risks, inadequacy in responding to risk changes over time and more.

AUSTRAC stated that it will continue to work closely with Crown Resorts to ensure the implementation of compliant and effective AML/CTF programs and systems in the future. Further comments on the agreement or court proceedings were withheld as the matter is now before the court. The final settlement amount will be determined by Justice Lee during the court hearing scheduled for July 10-11, 2023.

Crown Resorts responded to the agreement by recognizing it as a significant step towards rectifying past failings. The company emphasized its commitment to the community, law enforcement, industry, and stakeholders to ensure compliance with AML/CTF obligations.

Crown Resorts stated that there is no place for money laundering or terrorism financing within its establishments or the broader community. The company intends to develop a sophisticated and robust framework, supported by the necessary capabilities, to combat illegal behavior. Crown Resorts concluded its statement by reaffirming its dedication to implementing necessary reforms to improve its business and raise industry standards.

Will This Settlement Influence Regulatory Compliance?

The settlement between Crown Resorts and AUSTRAC serves as a reminder of the importance of strict adherence to AML/CTF regulations within the casino industry. By addressing and rectifying past failings, Crown Resorts aims to not only rebuild trust but also set higher standards for the entire industry. It remains to be seen how this settlement will impact Crown Resorts' operations and its ongoing commitment to preventing money laundering and terrorism financing.

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