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Alvin Chau banned from entering Australia

Tue, Aug 6, 4:17pm by Staff Writer

Suncity Group chief executive officer Alvin Chau has been banned from entering Australia by the nation’s Home Affairs department, according to a report by Fairfax Media.

In the latest of a series of articles investigating alleged links between Crown Resorts and Asian criminal syndicates, Fairfax newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age published reports of Chau’s exclusion over the weekend, citing official sources said to have spoken on the condition of anonymity.

They also referred to leaked reports from the Hong Kong Jockey Club in which it is claimed officials were briefed by Australian law enforcement officers in 2017 regarding alleged risks posed by Suncity Group’s controlling entities, including Chau.

However, it is worth noting that much of the recent reporting by the Australian media has focused on Crown’s use of junkets itself as a headline controversy, including references to the casino operator having “devised a strategy” to utilize junkets as a key part of its VIP business.

As previously noted by IAG, this completely overlooks the fact that Crown is far from alone in this pursuit – junkets are employed by gaming operators in a majority of casino-resorts around the world and are a fundamental part of their core business.

Crown issued a strongly worded rebuttal of its own last week in which it also said that none of the recent media reports conveyed the fact that junkets “are an established and accepted part of the operations of international casinos.”

The weekend’s headlines follow a three-way investigation that first aired a week ago by The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and Australian current affairs program 60 Minutes in which the trio accused Crown of doing business with Asian organised crime syndicates with known links to money laundering, drugs and sex trafficking.

The reports question Crown’s anti-money laundering controls and the visa approval processes applied to its VIP customers by Australian border control.

Fairfax has defended its stance and notes the Hong Kong Jockey Club leaked reports suggest the entities in question “pose tangible criminal and reputational risks to the … club and indeed racing integrity in Hong Kong.”

Silence from Crown amid junket report

Crown Resort’s long held policy of saying as little as possible at all times dates back to Kerry Packer’s famous philosophy about public relations: Never explain, never complain.

The Financial Review is reporting that following allegations between organised crime and the junket operators that bring Chinese gamblers to Crown’s Australian casinos, there should be two very important people in Crown’s world pushing the company to start talking.

One is James Packer, the company’s biggest shareholder. The other is Lawrence Ho, Crown’s second biggest shareholder.

The allegations were aired on Nine Entertainment’s 60 Minutes last Sunday night and in a series of reports in Nine’s newspapers.

As the market opened on Monday, shares in the casino operator fell 2.1 per cent, the biggest loss in one day in more than three months.

At 10.30am AEST on Monday, the shares had dipped 1 per cent to $12.54.

Crown tight lipped, but at what cost?

Crown told 60 Minutes it doesn’t publicly comment on its arrangements with junket operators or individuals and there was no further comment on Monday morning.

The sense from within the Crown camp is that it doesn’t believe there is much new in the allegations raised by the program.

Insiders say it is in almost constant contact with gaming regulators, the anti-money laundering agency and law enforcement in the natural course of doing business.

Junket operators are thoroughly vetted by the company and regulators.

The view within the Crown camp is while there is always room for improvement, to some extent it is reliant on the police to help identify any problems that might slip through the cracks.

Packer, Ho and every Crown investor would surely benefit if Crown comes out and explains the way it establishes junket operator links, how it vets these operators and how it will review its arrangement to ensure the highest probity, the Financial Review reports.

Packer has said he was a passive figure during the tumultuous time in October 2016 when 19 Crown staff were arrested, charged, convicted and jailed in China – he wasn’t a sitting director and hadn’t been for some months.

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