Crown finance boss warned but failed to act on suspicious transactions

by William Brown Last Updated
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A man with 24 years’ experience in the casino industry who was tasked with managing the finance of Crown Resorts’ two Australia casinos was warned of multiple suspicious transactions that could indicate money laundering, but can not remember taking action.

ABC News reports that the Perth Casino royal commission was told that Alan McGregor was forwarded an email in October 2014 by former Crown legal boss Joshua Preston.

Counsel assisting the royal commission Patricia Cahill said Mr Preston wanted Mr McGregor’s advice about a Crown employee receiving a batch of deposits smaller than $10,000 and totalling about $100,000.

All transactions of $10,000 and more must be reported to AUSTRAC, the Australian government agency which monitors finance crimes like money laundering.

Ms Cahill said the email pointed out that the deposits were “still under the threshold but an opportunity for the bank to report as suspicious”.

The chief financial officer for Crown’s Australian resorts, Mr McGregor said he did not remember what he did in response but he “probably” spoke to Mr Preston about it.

Riverbank Investments accounts facilitated money laundering

The royal commission was told that between 2007 and 2013, Mr McGregor was a director and secretary for Riverbank Investments Pty Ltd, a company that existed to hold bank accounts to take deposits from gamblers who did not want their bankers to know they were gambling.

The Bergin inquiry found Crown Resorts had facilitated money laundering through Crown Perth via Riverbank accounts.

Mr McGregor, who has overseen Crown Perth’s finance since 2007, bar 16 months in 2013 and 2014, told the royal commission that he and other senior executives involved with Riverbank took responsibility for the activity uncovered by the Bergin inquiry.

When asked who were the responsible executives, he named himself, Mr Preston, former Australian Resorts boss Barry Felstead and former Crown Resorts chief executives Ken Barton and Rowen Craigie.

“I think all of us who have been involved through that period in senior positions would take some responsibility for what has occurred through Riverbank and Southbank accounts in terms of what has arisen in recent times,” he said.

“It happened on our watch.”

Bergin inquiry uncovers new information about financial irregularities

Mr McGregor said he only learned that deposits smaller than $10,000 made into the Riverbank account had been aggregated into bigger amounts via the Bergin inquiry in 2020.

He said he was ultimately responsible for financial transactions in the cage, a place in the casino where cash can be exchanged for gambling chips.

But he could not explain why these deposits were aggregated by cage staff.

Mr McGregor gave evidence that he never told the Burswood Ltd board, which oversees Crown Perth, when the Riverbank accounts were set up in 2006.

This was despite Riverbank Investments Pty Ltd, the company established to hold the bank accounts, being a wholly-owned subsidiary of Burswood Ltd.

The royal commission heard that the Riverbank Investments account was never externally audited nor registered with AUSTRAC.

Any entity providing gambling services must be registered under the federal anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

The royal commission was also told that EY Australia was investigating whether Crown Perth had underpaid taxes to the WA government.

Mr McGregor said a draft report had been completed but he expected a final report in the coming days.

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