In South Australia, former royal commissioner and retired Supreme Court judge Brian Martin AO QC will lead an inquiry into SkyCity Adelaide casino after consumer and business affairs commissioner, Dini Soulio ordered a review of the property’s business dealings.
Inquiry commissions have been formed and some have nearly completed the investigative elements of their business throughout the country including New South Wales, one upcoming in Queensland, as well as in progress inquiries in Victoria and Western Australia.
Star Entertainment Group is currently under review and most of the work has been completed for Crown Resorts with commissioners finding various serious violations at nearly all properties that have been investigated so far. Both major operators have been found unsuitable to hold a casino license but are allowed to continue operations while progress is monitored.
New State-Level Inquiry
Liquor and Gambling Commissioner Dini Soulio announced the independent review of SkyCity, the casino’s second review on Friday. He said the new inquiry at the state level would “ensure that the way that SkyCity operates demonstrates that the licensee is still suitable to hold the casino license in South Australia”.
“A number of the matters raised to date extend beyond any one organization and point instead to broader systemic issues within the casino industry,” said Soulio.
He added that Victorian and Western Australian Royal Commissions’ inquiries into Crown Resorts as well as a probe by New South Wales regulators into Star identified “significant failings” in the casino industry writ large.
SkyCity Entertainment Group has five casinos between its native New Zealand and Australia. Federal financial crimes overseer, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) started a compliance assessment of the Adelaide casino in 2019 noting non-compliance with serious regulatory matters such as money laundering prevention and other financial laws.
In a June 2021 statement on its website acknowledging that a formal enforcement investigation had begun with a focus on “SkyCity Adelaide’s management of customers identified as high risk and politically exposed persons over the periods from 1 July 2015 – 30 June 2016 and 1 July 2018 – 30 June 2019.”
In the statement, SkyCity said that AUSTRAC was clear to state that it had not made any sort of decision regarding a regulatory response or enforcement action. The statement noted that SkyCity would provide information AUSTRAC requested and would “fully co-operate with AUSTRAC in relation to those inquiries and with the investigation of SkyCity Adelaide.”
High Confidence in Martin
As a state matter, Soulio has expressed great confidence in the retired Supreme Court judge’s qualifications to handle the inquiry. While Martin’s judicial career was not without controversy, he did handle some of the most prominent cases in Australian jurisprudence including the Snowtown murder trials – the longest and most publicized trial in Australian legal history.
Soulio commented: “Mr. Martin is a highly respected member of the legal profession. He has conducted reviews of key criminal justice policies in South Australia including reforms to the handling of major indictable offenses and the state’s sentencing discount scheme. I have every confidence he will deliver a report to help us ensure that South Australians can have confidence in the way that the Adelaide Casino is operating.”
Martin’s inquiry will address such questions as is SkyCity Adelaide a “suitable person to continue to hold the casino license”, and, if it is not, “what changes, if any, are required for the licensee to become a suitable person to hold the casino license”.
Adelaide Casino’s New Zealand-based owner, SkyCity Entertainment Group, will face similar scrutiny to ask and determine whether it is a “suitable person to continue to be a close associate of the licensee”.
The company’s 2021 statement on its website and filed with the ASX stated, “SkyCity has processes and practices in place in its business to detect and prevent money laundering and continually reviews these to ensure it meets all anti-money laundering requirements.”
According to InDaily, AUSTRAC investigations generally take up to two years to complete.
Martin’s report is expected to be delivered in written form early next year.
Source: Royal Commission call as Adelaide casino faces inquiry, InDaily Adelaide Independent News, July 4, 2022