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Crown poaches former head of junket investigation to tighten AML controls

Australia’s Crown Resorts has poached the man who oversaw recent investigations into its VIP and junket operations as the company’s new anti-money laundering advisor.

According to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald, former Melbourne Operations Manager for the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC), John Yates, was last week hired to help tighten Crown’s AML controls following revelations the company was largely unaware of large-scale deposits and transfers taking place in junket rooms within its own casino walls.

Since 2017, Yates has been involved in ACIC investigations into Crown’s use of Asian junket operators and their alleged criminal links although he is forbidden from sharing that information with his new bosses at the Australian casino operator.

The SMH said his new role has divided opinion with some former colleagues warning it posed a conflict of interest, while others believe he is exactly what Crown needs to steady the ship internally ahead of the planned December 2020 launch of its new AU$2.2 billion high-roller casino, Crown Sydney.

In particular, sources told The SMH that hiring Yates as its new compliance expert showed Crown recognizes the seriousness of its current predicament and the very real risk of losing its NSW casino license at the conclusion of the ongoing inquiry into its suitability.

Crown last week announced the suspension all junket play at its casinos in Melbourne and Perth until 30 June 2021 while it conducts an internal review of its processes related to junket operators.

The suspension followed evidence given at the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry by CEO Ken Barton last week stating senior management had been unaware of large cash deposits and transfers being made in junket rooms located within its own casino at Crown Melbourne.

Crown also said at the time that it had commenced a recruitment process for the newly created role of Head of Compliance and Financial Crimes, which will report directly to the Crown Resorts board.

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