Crown hit with $80m fine over ‘clandestine, deliberate’ bank card scam

Crown Resorts has been hit with a record $80 million fine over its illegal practice of accepting Chinese bank cards at its Melbourne casino to fund gambling and disguising the transactions as hotel expenses.

The gambling giant processed $164 million in China UnionPay card payments and netted more than $32 million in revenue through the scam between 2012 and 2016. The matter came to light last year during Victoria’s royal commission into the group.

Crown has been hit with a record $80 million fine. Credit:Chris Hopkins

The newly formed Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission said on Monday afternoon that it would impose an $80 million fine on Crown over the scandal. The state increased the maximum possible penalty from $1 million to $100 million last year.

“Crown’s [China UnionPay] process was a clandestine, deliberate process, which not only breached the Casino Control Act but was also devised to assist patrons to breach China’s foreign currency exchange restrictions,” commission chairperson Fran Thorn said.

“Crown was aware of the risk that the [China UnionPay] process could be illegal but decided to run that risk. In doing so, it showed no regard for upholding its regulatory obligations. Indeed, it went to some lengths to hide what it was doing.”

During last year’s Victorian royal commission into Crown – one of three sparked by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald’s investigative reporting into the company – Commissioner Ray Finkelstein described the processes as a “fraudulent scam” which “everybody involved would have known”.

The scam breached the prohibition on Crown accepting credit or debit cards at the casino for gambling and its obligation to keep accurate accounting records. It also left Crown susceptible to dealing with the proceeds of crime.

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