Star casino’s chief lawyer has told an inquiry he never saw a report raising criminal concerns about one of its gambling junket operators even as he was briefing regulators.
The royal-commission style probe will now hand its final report to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority at the end of August, two months later than the original June 30 deadline, as more witnesses are summoned.
Friday also saw The Star’s former group treasurer Sarah Scopel resign from her similar role at Woolworths Group.
Ms Scopel gave evidence in March admitting she misled National Australia Bank and China UnionPay over transactions made at the casino by billing customers’ gambling spending to their hotel rooms as accommodation expenses.
“Woolworths Group and Sarah Scopel have mutually agreed that Sarah will step down from her role as group treasurer for Woolworths Group with immediate effect,” a spokesperson for the supermarket giant said.
Ms Scopel’s resignation follows The Star’s chief executive Matt Bekier stepping down last month as the inquiry continues to hear damning evidence of how the casino handled money laundering concerns.
On Friday, Star’s group general counsel Andrew Power fronted the inquiry, saying he didn’t see a Hong Kong Jockey Club report alleging organised crime links to the operator of the Suncity gambling junket.
At the time, Suncity had a VIP room at the casino, Salon 95, where Star staff had seen video footage of large amounts of cash being dumped by Suncity staff.
Mr Power maintained none of his colleagues ever told him about the report, even as he was providing information to state regulators in 2019.
One of its authors had even taken a due diligence role at the casino subsequently.
The report detailed Suncity’s alleged links to triads, drug trafficking and money laundering.
“I don’t believe I ever read the Hong Kong Jockey Club report,” he said, despite hearing many of his senior colleagues had read it.
The inquiry heard on Tuesday the report may have been shredded by the casino’s chief financial crimes officer, Skye Arnott.
Mr Power said he frequently prefaced emails with “privileged and confidential”, marking them as legal advice.
He denied this (www.ajiados.org) was to take them outside the scope of regulatory probes.
Mr Power said he told internal investigators “no more emails” because he wanted them to get up from their desks and talk to business colleagues, not because he didn’t want them documenting things.
He also told the inquiry he never completed a course on anti-money laundering practices but had knowledge of the laws.
Mr Power’s evidence follows Star’s group counsel corporate, Oliver White, who became emotional on Thursday as he told the inquiry he could have done more to prevent suspected money laundering at the casino.
The inquiry has also heard claims Star enabled money laundering at its international operations, breached rules on the use of Chinese debit cards, and allowed patrons to walk out of the casino with large numbers of gaming chips.