New South Wales continues its investigation into Star Entertainment’s alleged mismanagement of regulations this week. Matt Bekier, the casino operator’s former CEO, is now going to be in the hot seat.
New South Wales (NSW) has already heard several Star Entertainment executives confirm how the casino operator routinely sidestepped its regulatory obligations. It allegedly looked the other way as duffle bags full of cash entered its properties unchecked. In addition to ignoring anti-money-laundering policies, the company was also willing to ignore international law, and allowed Chinese VIPs to use bank cards inappropriately.
The result of the admissions was the resignation of the top man at the company, former CEO Matt Bekier. However, his willingness to step aside won’t keep him out of trouble.
Bekier is going to appear in NSW’s hearing this week, according to the Australian Financial Review, as will Harry Theodore, Star’s chief financial officer (CFO). Bekier will get to see what’s coming, as Theodore will go first.
More Questions than Answers
The NSW government already knows that Star repeatedly broke the rules for years. Executives apparently had no trouble ignoring the financial and gaming regulatory protocols that were in place.
Star’s bosses looked the other way as a VIP made one trip after another to the casino floor, despite being under investigation for money laundering. They also ordered the shredding of at least one document that, if uncovered, would provide evidence of some of its actions.
Those topics are likely to come up as Bekier takes the stand. He will also have to answer to allegations that he conspired to cover up a report by accounting firm KPMG that highlighted several failings at the company. His appearance this week is the first time he will speak publicly about the scandal since he resigned at the end of March.
Star allegedly helped high rollers push hundreds of millions of dollars through its operations, most of which presumably came out of China. It was, for Star, a win-win proposition, despite the illegality of it. It continued to give VIPs what they wanted while it earned big money and avoided paying taxes.
Within the next two weeks, other company brass will occupy the same seat as Bekier, and will likely answer some of the same questions. Board Chairman John O’Neill will take the lead on May 9. But other board members will appear, as well.
Executive Ranks Begin to Thin
Bekier’s exit from the company was the first, but definitely not the last. In almost a mirror situation of what happened with Crown Resorts, more executives will soon leave. Theodore is going to take the stand this week, and according to AFR, could soon tender his resignation. He reportedly helped hide almost $1 billion in transactions so that Chinese high rollers could gamble.
Theodore allegedly worked with Sarah Scopel to scramble the paper trails. At the time, she was the company’s treasurer, but has since moved on.
Scopel still felt the sting of the investigation, though, and resigned from her position at Woolworth’s shortly after taking the stand in the Star inquiry. She began working at the supermarket chain as its group treasurer last October.
NSW already requested an extension of the investigation, and won’t have its final results ready until August. In the meantime, Star can begin preparing for additional fallout. Queensland is reportedly going after the company next, followed by AUSTRAC, Australia’s financial watchdog.
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