SYDNEY - A television documentary has made allegations linking Australia’s gambling giant, Crown Casino, to organized crime, money laundering and human trafficking. The company has taken out newspaper ads denying the allegations.
The investigation into Crown Casino was carried out by Australia’s Channel Nine television network and two newspapers, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age. The story was based on tens of thousands of documents apparently leaked from the company that owns casinos in the cities of Melbourne and Perth, and is planning another in Sydney.
The documentary alleged links between Crown and organized crime and claims the company turned a “blind eye” to money laundering and exploited weaknesses in Australia’s immigration processes to fly wealthy Chinese gamblers into the country without proper checks. There are also claims it had business links with an Australian brothel that has been investigated over human trafficking.
MP seeks investigation
Independent Member of Parliament Andrew Wilkie told the Australian parliament that Crown has operated above the law in the state of Victoria.
“I now know of three police officers — two currently serving — who have openly said to my staff that in Victoria, Crown is regarded as the Vatican, an independent sovereign state all to its own where the laws of Victoria, the laws of the Commonwealth (of Australia) do not apply.”
Wilkie has failed in his bid to have the claims investigated by the Australian parliament. But federal Attorney-General Christian Porter has referred the allegations to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity. It can only investigate the behavior of federal law enforcement officials, and not Crown employees.
The state of Victoria has ordered the state’s gambling office to examine the claims against Crown Casino “as a matter of priority.”
Experts have also demanded Australia’s anti-money laundering regulator AUSTRAC examine claims that criminals have passed money through Crown Casino.
Company denies accusations
The company has strongly denied the allegations.
In a series of newspaper advertisements, the company said it wanted to set the “record straight in the face of a deceitful campaign against Crown.” Crown Casino accused the TV documentary of unfairly attempting to damage its reputation. It also said it takes its regulatory obligations very seriously.