Australian casino operator Crown Resorts has confirmed its flagship Melbourne-based venue is being investigated for possible breaches of anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing laws.

Through an official statement, the AXL-listed company stated it has been informed that Austrac’s Regulatory Operations branch has ‘identified potential non-compliance’ by Crown Melbourne Limited with the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act 2006 and the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Rules 2007.

The statement reads: “The potential non-compliance includes concerns in relation to ongoing customer due diligence, and adopting, maintaining and complying with an anti-money laundering/counter-terrorism financing program.

“These concerns were identified in the course of a compliance assessment that commenced in September 2019 and focussed on Crown Melbourne’s management of customers identified as high risk and politically exposed persons.”

If the alleged breaches are proven, it could result in Crown Resorts, who have casinos in Melbourne and Perth and are in the process of building another in Sydney, being handed a six digit figure in fines and facing the potential loss of its casino licenses.  

Investors in Crown Resorts have reportedly wiped $500m from the company’s value after the financial crimes watchdog said it was formally investigating the group, with shares falling by 8.2 per cent to $8.25 hitting its lowest closing level in six months, amid growing signs of investor discontent about the company’s operations and governance.

The statement concluded: “The matter has been referred to Austrac’s Enforcement Team, which has initiated a formal enforcement investigation into the compliance of Crown Melbourne.”

Crown Melbourne has confirmed it will respond to all information requests to support the investigation and will fully cooperate with Austrac throughout the process.

In August, Crown Resorts issued a lengthy notice on behalf of its board of directors as the organisation took out a full length newspaper advertisement in its home country where it slammed media allegations.

The letter, titled ‘Setting the record straight in the face of a deceitful campaign against Crown’, addressed differing aspects of the allegation under the headings of junket operators, anti-money laundering, detentions in China in 2016 and visa processing, with Crown stating that there’s several examples ‘of poor or misleading journalism’.

Earlier in the year, Crown Resorts issued a staunch defence of its operations following increased scrutiny and criticism due to allegations made by Australian media regarding money laundering and the fast-tracking of visas for wealthy overseas gamblers.

Following an investigation by the country’s Nine Network, the results claimed that the company used junket operators, allegedly linked to drug traffickers, as it tried to attract wealthy Chinese gamblers to Australia.

The investigation also suggested officials aided high spenders through the immigration process and claimed at least one Asian crime syndicate laundered money through the organisation’s casinos.