Cash withdrawn from Star in question

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Australia-China tensions don’t concern Star CEO

A cash withdrawal of $100,000 was allegedly made from a casino gaming fund linked to a Chinese billionaire.

Yahoo News reports the news as significant because it was made less than a week before the same amount was deposited into the bank account of New South Wales Labor.

The Independent Commission Against Corruption is examining whether Huang Xiangmo was the true source of the money, said to be donated by 12 people at the 2015 Chinese Friends of Labor dinner.

As a property developer, Mr Huang was prohibited from making donations to New South Wales political parties.

He is now banned from Australia.

The Star’s Group investigations officer Kevin Houlihan presented evidence to ICAC on Thursday showing Mr Huang listed as a player on a gaming junket program at the Sydney casino in April, 2015.

Wun Chi Wong, also known as Gary Wong, was listed as the junket’s operator on tendered documents.

The inquiry previously heard Mr Wong was Mr Huang’s assistant.

In an application to the casino in 2012, Mr Wong said he was an employee of property development company Yuhu Group, of which Mr Huang was a director and chairman.

Further documents tendered show Mr Huang provided a $5 million buy-in for a gaming junket scheduled at The Star for April, 2015.

The money was deposited as credit into Mr Huang’s front money account and then transferred to the front money account of Mr Wong on April 3, 2015.

A front money account is a bank account with the casino, where money is deposited and from which chips for gaming can be drawn down or cash can be withdrawn.

$100,000 was withdrawn from Mr Wong’s account in cash on the same day.

The transaction was flagged as suspicious by the casino.

The inquiry has previously heard former New South Wales Labor boss Jamie Clements, who stood down as party general-secretary in 2016, and Mr Hung, met at Labor’s Sydney headquarters on April 7, 2015.

Mr Clements has been accused of accepting the $100,000 cash at the centre of the inquiry from Mr Huang in an Aldi plastic shopping bag, before it was handed to New South Wales Labor community relations director Kenrick Cheah before it was deposited on April 9. 2015.

The inquiry has been told Mr Huang took the cash in bundles of $100 notes to the Sussex Street head office.

Last Thursday, the inquiry heard that if a “substantial” amount of money – say $50,000 or $100,000 – was withdrawn from an account at The Star, preferred procedure is to give the cash out in $100 notes.

ICAC began public hearings over the matter in August and finished last Thursday.

It will hand down its report at a later date.

Star engages former LNP powerbroker Santoro

The Star Entertainment Group has hired former Liberal and National Party powerbroker and lobbyist Santo Santoro.

The Australian Financial Review reports that the John O’Neill-chaired company last month promised to spend millions of dollars upgrading its Gold Coast assets, including its casino at Broadbeach.

The Queensland state government is now on the Star Group’s side and turned its back on a year-long process to find an operator for a second Gold Coast casino.

More than 10 groups expressed interest in the planned Gold Coast tourism hub and a second casino, according to Queensland Tourism Minister Kate Jones.

Late last month, the government suspended its process, awaiting to hear more of the Star’s plans.

The Liberal and National Party Opposition Leader Deb Frecklington reckons that’s “policy by press release”, and has demanded to know what “backroom deals” the government has been involved in.

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