SA-BEST reiterates call for Royal Commission into Adelaide Casino following AUSTRAC court action

7 December 2022

SA-BEST today repeated its calls for a Royal Commission into the operations of SkyCity Adelaide Casino after AUSTRAC - Australia’s financial crimes watchdog – today launched legal action against it in the Federal Court. 

SA-BEST MLCs Connie Bonaros and Frank Pangallo said AUSTRAC’s allegations of serious and systemic non-compliance with Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws were so serious nothing short of a Royal Commission was required. 

“Every South Australian should be deeply concerned at the bombshell allegations by AUSTRAC – and nothing short of a Royal Commission will get to the bottom on those allegations,” said Connie, SA-BEST’s Gambling spokesperson. 

“Royal Commissions and/or independent inquiries undertaken into casino operations in NSW, Victoria and Western Australia uncovered a dearth of concerns about how casinos operate in this country – and it’s now abundantly clear an open and transparent Royal Commission is needed in South Australia,” she said. 

“SA-BEST has been raising its concerns about the operations of SkyCity Adelaide with successive governments since March last year. 

“Back then, we sought an independent investigation into the casino’s operations. 

“Those concerns sparked an initial inquiry from the Commissioner for Consumer Affairs, Liquor and Gambling, Dini Soulio – who’s the state’s gambling regulator – who later upped the ante by appointing the Hon Brian Martin KC to undertake an independent investigation into SkyCity Adelaide and SkyCity Entertainment Group Limited’s suitability to hold a Casino Licence under the Casino Act. 

“And today we find ourselves here with a host of damning allegations levelled at the casino by AUSTRAC.” 

As part of its civil claim lodged in the Federal Court today, AUSTRAC’s extensive allegations include SkyCity: 

  • failed to appropriately assess the money laundering and terrorism financing risks it faced, including the likelihood and impact of those risks, and to identify and respond to changes in risk over time. 
  • did not include in its AML/CTF programs appropriate risk-based systems and controls to mitigate and manage the risks to which SkyCity was reasonably exposed. 
  • failed to establish an appropriate framework for Board and senior management oversight of the AML/CTF programs. 
  • did not have a transaction monitoring program to monitor transactions and identify suspicious activity that was appropriately risk-based or appropriate to the nature, size and complexity of SkyCity. 
  • did not have an appropriate enhanced customer due diligence program to carry out additional checks on higher risk customers; 
  • did not conduct appropriate ongoing customer due diligence on a range of customers who presented higher money laundering risks, and; 

Frank said: “These serious allegations reinforce what SA-BEST has long feared – criminal groups and foreign actors may have been using the SkyCity Adelaide casino to launder money. 

“Casinos around the world are notorious for being used by organised crime gangs like the Mafia and Triads to launder their dirty money – why would SkyCity Adelaide be an exception,” he asked. 

“And now we have AUSTRAC launching court action against the casino’s operations after an extensive investigation of its operations. 

“People shouldn’t be fooled into thinking criminal activity doesn’t take place in casinos. 

“A Royal Commission is the only way to investigate these disturbing allegations in a truly transparent and accountable way.”

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