The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) has commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court against 11 current and former directors and officers of The Star Entertainment Group Limited (Star) for alleged breaches of their duties under section 180 of the Corporations Act.
ASIC Deputy Chair Sarah Court said: “ASIC alleges that Star’s board and executives failed to give sufficient focus to the risk of money laundering and criminal associations, which are inherent in the operation of a large casino with an international customer base.”
ASIC’s case includes claims against members of the Star Board between 2017 to 2019, being John O Neill (former Chair), Matthias Bekier (former Managing Director and CEO), Kathleen Lahey, Richard Sheppard, Gerard Bradley, Sally Pitkin, Benjamin Heap and Zlatko Todorcevski.
ASIC alleges the Board members approved the expansion of Star’s relationship with certain individuals with reported criminal links, rather than addressing money laundering risk by inquiring into whether Star should be dealing with them. ASIC also alleges that Board members, when provided with information about money laundering risks affecting Star, did not take steps to make further enquiries of management about those critical risks and that this was a breach of their director duty obligations.
ASIC further alleges that Mr Bekier and Star executives Paula Martin (former Company Secretary and Group General Counsel) and Greg Hawkins (former Chief Casino Officer) breached their duties by:
- not adequately addressing the money laundering risks that arose from dealing with Asian gambling junket Suncity and its funder, as well as continuing to deal with them despite becoming aware of reports of criminal links; and
- not appropriately escalating money laundering issues to the Board.
As to Ms Martin and Harry Theodore (former Chief Financial Officer), ASIC also alleges they knowingly permitted misleading statements being provided to National Australia Bank (NAB) regarding the use of debit cards issued by China Union Pay International Ltd (CUP) at NAB ATMs located on Star’s premises. Those statements disguised the fact that Star was permitting CUP cards to be used for gambling, which was prohibited by CUP. ASIC is aware over $900 million was obtained by Star customers using CUP cards in NAB ATMs from 2013 to 2019. ASIC also alleges that they, and Mr Bekier, failed to report these matters to Star’s Board.
ASIC Chair Joe Longo said the role of directors was critical to a company’s general standing and performance, including how a company deals with significant issues.
“As I’ve said on many occasions, directors and officers are a critical part of the conduct of business in Australia. Their duty is to understand the operations of the company over which they preside, and the particular risks faced by the business. They are required to bring an inquiring mind to business operations. It is not ‘set and forget.’”
Stats Perform to exclusively distribute Australian Open video and data rights in extensive new partnership with Tennis Australia to make every game, set and match mean more
Stats Perform will be the exclusive distributor of live video streaming and ultrafast data to licensed sports betting operators for Tennis Australia, including cutting-edge new features to make every game, set and match mean more.
The multi-year agreement sees Stats Perform add the Australian Open, Australian Open Qualifying and other TA tournaments to its wide portfolio of premium live betting streams and trading data.
Tennis Australia will use Stats Perform’s media tools including Opta Facts, PressBox Graphics and extensive news services to build bigger audiences for Tennis Australia and Australian tennis players as they compete on year-round global tours.
Stats Perform’s Integrity division will also join forces with TA’s in-house Integrity Unit to monitor all matches for potential match manipulation.
This will include Stats Perform Integrity’s core services on competition and match integrity risk management, namely pre-tournament risk assessments as well as monitoring, intelligence and analysis of the global markets along with performance analysis and investigation of any instances of suspected match manipulation.
The deep integrity support will also provide access to investigative services incorporating digital forensics and due diligence to ensure a robust approach to managing risk around tennis played in Australia.
Cedric Conelis, Tennis Australia Chief Revenue Officer, commented, “Stats Perform has a reputation for trust and innovation, making them a clear choice and providing more opportunities for us to reach and engage with our fans.”
Carl Mergele, CEO, Stats Perform, added, “Our focus is on extending the incredible entertainment on the court or field, to help those in the sports business capture more fan attention, for longer. We are honoured to have been chosen to work with Tennis Australia – an organisation which shares our goal of protecting and elevating the fan experience, for new and existing tennis audiences across the globe.”
The deal is the latest addition to Stats Perform’s growing portfolio of tennis rights, which includes the WTA Tour, Wimbledon, ITF Davis Cup World Group and the Billie Jean Cup.
The announcement comes shortly after Stats Perform claimed Best Sports Data Provider for Opta and RunningBall, and Best Mobile Innovation, for Instant Highlights and Smart Stats Overlays™, at the SBC Awards.
NSW to Reform Casino Tax Rates
Casino tax arrangements will be reformed by the NSW Government to help fund vital services.
The proposed increases are anticipated to commence on 1 July 2023 and include tax rates on what the casinos earn from gaming tables and poker machines. They are forecast to raise an additional $364 million over the next three years.
Treasurer Matt Kean said the changes will support the State’s fiscal sustainability as it continues to invest in communities recovering from the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19, bushfires and floods.
“It’s important that casinos pay their fair share of tax. These reformed tax rates will replace the existing regime under which casinos pay less tax on poker machines than hotels and clubs,” Mr Kean said.
“These changes will ensure that the casinos continue to make an appropriate contribution to the community and support the delivery of vital Government services.”
Mr Kean said casinos provide employment and entertainment for thousands of people across the State and these changes will support their ongoing contribution to the NSW economy.
The updated poker machine rate will bring NSW into line with Victoria, following recent reforms to casino taxation arrangements announced in the 2022-23 Victorian Budget.
The NSW Government, through the Responsible Gambling Fund, is spending $33 million in 2022-23 to support people experiencing gambling harm, educating the community on the risks of gambling and investing in research to better understand gambling behaviour. The 2022-23 NSW Budget committed to allocating an additional $5 million per year to the Responsible Gambling Fund, increasing in line with inflation.
ACMA Blocks Two Illegal Offshore Gambling Websites
The ACMA has requested the Australian internet service providers (ISPs) to block two illegal offshore gambling websites, after investigations found that those two websites are operating in breach of the Interactive Gambling Act 2001.
The latest sites blocked include Pokizino and ABA Lucky 33.
Website blocking is one of a range of enforcement options to protect Australians against illegal online gambling. Since the ACMA made its first blocking request in November 2019, 652 illegal gambling and affiliate websites have been blocked.
Over 180 illegal services have also pulled out of the Australian market since the ACMA started enforcing new illegal offshore gambling rules in 2017.
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