Junket operator Suncity has operated as a third party at Australian casino, The Star, via a “Suncity cage” as the operator lacked regulatory approval, which involved a AUD60,000 cash play in the VIP room.
Suncity’s involvement was confirmed at a NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority inquiry yesterday at which Star NSW regulatory manager David Aloi testified for the second time, expressing concerns of alleged money laundering.
According to him, the “Suncity cage” was located at the private gaming room called Salon 95.
Cash transactions at the casino would have to be processed through The Star’s cage. However, Aloi said that he had learnt of a AUD60,000 cash play in the VIP room.
The current inquiry was sparked by reports that the operator of the Australian casino, Star Entertainment Group, has allowed Suncity to run a high roller gambling business in the private room.
With the cancellation of numerous contracts between Suncity and casino regulators following the scandals surrounding the recent arrest of its CEO Alvin Chau, a senior Star executive admitted before an inquiry last week that the promoter to ultra-wealthy Chinese gamblers “was still operating at the Star, albeit not under the Suncity banner,” as cited in several media reports.
The announcement contradicted the gaming operator’s statement back in 2019 that the two companies have already terminated their relationship – a relationship which came to light after a scandal in 2019 when Australian newspapers, The Age and the Herald Sun, revealed its ties to powerful Asian crime syndicates.
At the inquiry on Friday, CCTV footage was shown, confirming that cash transactions were taking place at Salon 95. Bundles of cash were brought in and handled out of the private room.
Suncity was given access to a private gaming room for its customers in 2016, under the condition that they use the Star’s cage to purchase gaming chips or cash them in.
However, the inquiry has shown that Suncity has been in breach of this condition.
Amid the ongoing inquiry, the managing director and CEO of The Star Entertainment Group Matt Bekier resigned yesterday, saying that it was the right thing to take the responsibility.
In a company statement, Bekier said that as the head of the group, he was “accountable for the effectiveness and adequacy of the company’s processes, policies, people and culture.”
Philippines suspends Suncity license
Suncity Group has been suspended from operating junkets in the Philippines in the latest blow to the company, whose operations are now in global turmoil.
The country’s gaming regulator, Philippine Amusement and Gaming Corp (PAGCOR) has laid out conditions if the troubled junket group wants to continue to operate in the Philippines.
These conditions include a requirement for Suncity to place all of its clients’ front money into a separate bank account; and for the group to be transparent in declaring how much front money it has on deposit, providing a quarterly statement.
If the group fails to comply, Suncity, and Alvin Chau will be deemed “permanently unsuitable” to operate in the Philippines.
Last year, PAGCOR received two complaints that Suncity may be misappropriating a total of USD57.9 million, prompting the government to launch an investigation.