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SkyCity ordered to pay $67 million penalty for AML/CTF breaches

The Hon Mark Dreyfus KC MP
Media Release

Today the Federal Court has ordered SkyCity Adelaide Pty Ltd (SkyCity) pay a $67 million penalty for its breaches of the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 (AML/CTF).

This is the second order of significant civil penalties against an Australian casino, after the Federal Court last year ordered Crown Melbourne and Crown Perth to pay a $450 million penalty over two years for breaches of the AML/CTF Act.

These penalties are a clear warning to all businesses that AUSTRAC and the Australian Government take seriously breaches of the AML/CTF Act.

AUSTRAC commenced civil penalty proceedings in the Federal Court in December 2022 following a detailed investigation into SkyCity’s non-compliance with the AML/CTF Act.

SkyCity admitted to operating in contravention of the AML/CTF Act over many years. This breach allowed high-risk customers to move millions of dollars through the casino, hiding the source and ownership of these funds.

The casino industry faces serious risks of exploitation by criminals seeking to launder illicit funds. It is unacceptable for businesses operating in the sector to fail in their responsibilities to help protect our financial system from these threats.

Money laundering is not a victimless crime. Each year billions of dollars of illicit funds are generated from illegal activities such as drug trafficking, tax evasion, people smuggling, cybercrime and arms trafficking. The proceeds from these crimes can be used to fund further crimes such as terrorism, child abuse and the illegal drug trade.

Last month’s Budget provided an additional $166.4 million for AUSTRAC to ensure Australia’s AML/CTF regime can more effectively deter, detect and disrupt money laundering and terrorism financing by expanding the regime to cover tranche two entities - lawyers, accountants, trust and company service providers, real estate agents and dealers in precious metals and stones.

Today’s penalty puts on notice all businesses operating in the gambling and casino sectors that they must be vigilant to money laundering and terrorism financing risks and ensure they do their part to stop these criminals from using their services to launder the proceeds.

Businesses who fail to meet their obligations and systematically breach the law should know that AUSTRAC will not hesitate to take whatever action is necessary to ensure they comply with the AML/CTF Act.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is responsible for preventing, detecting and responding to criminal abuse of the financial system to protect the community from serious and organised crime.