A year-long investigation that examined tens of thousands of leaked emails has revealed the secret inner workings of Australia’s biggest casino, Crown. The investigation, a collaborative effort led by 60 Minutes Australia, highlighted links to Chinese crime bosses and communist party figures in addition to drugs syndicates, money laundering and alleged sex trafficking rings.
After setting up offices across mainland China in 2010, Crown offered big incentives to its staff to break Chinese law to lure high rollers. When authorities closed in, the company reportedly abandoned its employees.
Crown employee Jenny Jiang, along with of her 18 colleagues, were arrested on October 13 and 14, 2016 and held in custody, convicted of breaching mainland Chinese laws that ban gambling and its promotion. She lives in Shanghai and now has a criminal record in China. As a Crown employee, her pay was based on incentives that were paid out when their high roller customers reached “appraisal targets” by gambling billions of dollars.
Jiang claimed that Crown’s promise to bring revenue to the Australian government led to hundreds of visas being stamped for Chinese nationals because they promised to gamble tens or hundreds of millions of dollars on trips to casinos.
EXCLUSIVE: #60Mins and @Ageinvestigates can reveal Former Border Force Commissioner Roman Quaedvlieg says he was encouraged by several members of parliament to fast track Crown’s Chinese high-rollers through Australian borders. pic.twitter.com/HuVgDjKVxS
— 60 Minutes Australia (@60Mins) July 28, 2019
Jiang became a whistleblower that refused a $60,000 payment from Crown for her silence.
The investigation highlighted that Crown was prepared to cooperate with Asian organized crime syndicates, including the Triads and the most powerful drug trafficking syndicate in the world, in order to encourage business at their casinos. Current and former government officials also said that Crown helped bring criminals through the nation’s border in a way that raised serious national security concerns for Australia.
Chinese high rollers and criminals would look for ways to either “clean” money or smuggle it out of the country. They would work with “junket operators”, who had access to offshore funds and would provide luxury services to high rollers including non-negotiable casino chips. Many of these “junket operators” were familiar with the territory in Macau, the only place in China where you can legally bet in a casino.
From there, Crown casino would pay out winnings and unspent money. The junket operator got a commission and the high rollers and criminals would leave the casino with “clean” money.
Junket operators would then “balance the ledger” by having Australian debts repaid in China. Since Chinese courts don’t recognize gambling debts, this would occasionally lead to junkets seeking “alternatives” to collecting on debts, including violence.
In 2013, when authorities looked into one Melbourne financial adviser who was licensed by Crown to work as a representative for an Asian junket operator, Roy Moo, they found CCTV video of him passing bundles of $50 notes from a plastic shopping bag to a Crown staff member.
He claimed that “Crown offered its junkets a financial service with all the hallmarks of an underground banking operation.”
The money wound up totaling $969,000 and wound up being the proceeds of a drug syndicate’s trafficking operation in Melbourne and Sydney.
Crown said: “Crown does not comment on its business operations with particular individuals or businesses. However, it has a ‘comprehensive’ anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program in place which is subject to regulatory supervision by AUSTRAC.”
You can watch the entire investigation here:
In Australia, there was some outrage over how the segment was promoted by 60 Minutes, who, in teasers called it a story that would “rock the foundation of Australia”. Viewers noted that a similar investigation had also taken place in 2017 by ABC and some said that the story was “overhyped”.