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Suncity scales back Aussie junket operations

Mon, Aug 19, 12:38pm by Staff Writer

Suncity is scaling back its Australian operations after revelations of its alleged links to organised crime.

The world’s biggest recruiter of high-roller Chinese gamblers, Suncity, and Australia’s second largest casino operator, Star Entertainment, reached a mutual decision “in the last 10 days” to shut down Suncity’s fixed high-roller room inside The Star’s flagship Sydney casino.

Sources with knowledge of the situation told The Age that Suncity’s fixed high-roller room at the Crown Casino in Melbourne will also be closing as a result of the company’s retreat.

Suncity is the largest Macau-based “junket” agent that brings cashed-up Chinese punters to casinos in Australia and around the world, where they can often gamble many millions of dollars per hour.

“The fixed room of Suncity will be discontinued here,” Mr Bekier said on Friday of The Star Casino.

“They had a small fixed room. That room is being closed.”

Star’s announcement comes after Crown’s high-profile board of directors took out public advertisements backing the company’s relationship with Suncity and other junket operators.

Crown & The Star lose VIP rooms

The decision to shut down its fixed gaming salons and withdraw its staff follows revelations by The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes that the head of Suncity, Alvin Chau, had been barred from entering Australia by the Department of Home Affairs.

Mr Bekier would not comment on the extent to which Star would continue to have dealings with Suncity following the closure of the room.

When asked last week why The Star was still using Suncity, Bekier replied: “Why not?”

“Suncity is the largest junket operator in the world and we work in a very prescribed and lawful way with junkets that are credible and have been approved, in some states, by the regulators.”

In response to the allegations about Suncity, a spokeswoman for Suncity, Maggie Tang, said: “Suncity Group started to cooperate with Crown since 2014, and we are now operating one VIP Club in Crown Melbourne.”

Suncity offers VIP services such as transportation and accommodation arrangement to our guests who would like to travel to Melbourne, and Crown Melbourne.”

Leaked reports from the Hong Kong Jockey Club obtained by The Age reveals club officials were briefed by “Australian Law Enforcement” in May 2017 about their concerns about Suncity.

Among the concerns were suspected “large-scale money laundering activities.”

The report also states that “Suncity Group’s controlling entities…pose tangible criminal and reputational risks to the Hong Kong Jockey Club and indeed racing integrity in Hong Kong.”

Suncity key personalities have demonstrated links to numerous triad societies and organised crime figures,” said the intelligence report.

Mr Bekier said Star had “comprehensive” anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing programs, and worked closely with law enforcement authorities.

Efforts to contact Crown and Suncity on Friday were unsuccessful.

The closure of Suncity’s rooms comes as multiple state and federal inquiries have been launched into the casino industry following revelations that Crown Resorts had gone into business with several junket operators backed by powerful Asian crime gangs and Chinese foreign influence agents.

Last week, the New South Wales gaming watchdog announced an independent examination of Crown’s junket connections, to be headed by a former Supreme Court judge, with hearings to be held in public.

Concerns over the infiltration of organised crime in casinos are also the subject of a wide-ranging investigation by peak criminal intelligence agency, the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission.

“The lack of transparency of casino junket operations, anonymity of participants and obscurity around beneficial ownership, source and distribution of junket funds provide opportunities for criminal exploitation,” Michael Phelan of the ACIC said.

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