Star Sydney’s senior vice-president of VIP gaming was cozy with an alleged corporate fraudster who is now a fugitive from Australian justice, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
The Herald reports that Star’s Mark Walker “maintained a secret and longstanding relationship” with Michael Gu, whose Sydney-based property group, iProsperity, collapsed last year, owing around US$245 million to investors.
Star Entertainment is still reeling from a stock crash that wiped almost $1 billion off its market value. That was in the wake of media allegations Sunday that it enabled money laundering at its Sydney, Brisbane, and Gold Coast properties.
Gu has now fled the country, his whereabouts unknown. He is accused of personally misappropriating at least $21 million. That helped fund a collection of supercars: two Lamborghinis, a Rolls Royce Wraith, a Ferrari GTB, an Audi Q7, and a McLaren Spider, according to The Australian. The rest of the time, he traveled by private jet and drank $3,000 bottles of wine, the newspaper has reported.
‘Hallmarks of Money Laundering’
According to insolvency firm Cor Cordis, which is attempting to trace the missing millions, someone at iProsperity wired A$8 million (US$5.9 million) to the Crown Casino Melbourne between August 2014 and May 2017. This was later either withdrawn by Gu or used for gambling. It bore “all the hallmarks of money laundering,” The Age reported.
These dates correspond with the period Walker worked for Crown as VP of Domestic Sales – Table Games. He left in 2017 to join Star and brought high-rolling Gu with him. That’s according to “multiple” Herald sources with “deep knowledge of [Gu’s] activities.”
Gu and his iProsperity associate, Harry Huang, began gambling at the Star Sydney, wagering millions of dollars between 2018 and 2020. Gu even offered Walker a job during this time, the sources claim.
Gu had ambitions to build his own gambling empire, which included a junket operation at the Star that would minimize his tax exposure, according to the sources. In 2018, Gu tried to buy the Casino Canberra from Hong Kong billionaire Tony Fung, a deal that ultimately fell through. At the time, the businessman was also eyeing a casino in Vanuatu in the South Pacific.
Feeling the Heat
Walker ultimately turned down the job offer but continued to advise Gu on his gambling-related dealings, according to the sources.
There is no evidence that Walker new of Gu’s allegedly criminal activities. But their alleged relationship could prove damaging for a company that has been accused of failing to properly vet its high rolling gamblers, some of whom are accused or have been convicted of serious crimes.
On Tuesday, regulators in Queensland said they would launch an investigation into Star regarding the recent media allegations. This comes after similar inquiries were announced in New South Wales, Western Australia, and Victoria.
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