AUSTRAC Urges Casino Industry to Be More Vigilant with Junket Operators

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) has called on casinos to assess the threat of junkets and improve anti-money laundering practices after it found a high risk of terrorism financing.

A new report has said that the junket sector, which sees tour operators bring gamblers to casinos, faces multiple criminal threats. It stated, “Not all junket tour operations are the same, and the level of risk associated with each operation varies depending on many factors, including but not limited to the domicile of junket tour operators and players, and the effectiveness of the risk mitigation systems applied by casinos.”

The report highlighted the fact that junkets allow for a great deal of anonymity, which makes it impossible to assess whether they pose a risk in relation to terrorism financing. This is due to the fact that “the source and beneficiary of transactions is obscured, and the transactions of individual targets cannot be assessed against actual gaming.”

It also looked into the risk of money going through junkets being used to fund foreign interference activities, “Transactions indicate that entities who may be of concern from a foreign interference perspective could be using money held in casino accounts to make political donations with a link to foreign interference.”

Together with the report, the chief executive of AUSTRAC, Nicole Rose, said that the organization expects casinos to use the report to protect their businesses.

Nicole Rose Chief Executive of AUSTRAC

The information contained in this risk assessment shows that junkets are highly vulnerable to criminal misuse and Australian casinos must do more to mitigate ML/TF (money laundering and terrorism financing) risks.

Nicole RoseChief Executive of AUSTRAC

In her statement, she went on to urge casinos to improve their controls and to report all suspicious activity to AUSTRAC.

The report looked at financial data and intelligence gathered between April 2018 and March 2019. It found that eight out of thirteen casinos ran junket programs but that there has been a huge reduction in junkets at casinos since the start of the coronavirus pandemic.

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