- SkyCity reached an agreement with AUSTRAC on a penalty for AML/CTF contraventions
- The court will decide the final amount but SkyCity has provided $73 million for the penalty
- Could also have its Adelaide casino license revoked by the South Australian government
SkyCity will have to pay over $70 million in civil penalty over alleged violations of Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing (AML/CTF) laws.
The casino operator this week unveiled through a statement to the Australian Stock Exchange that it had reached an agreement with the financial crime watchdog, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) on the contraventions it would admit to and the amount of penalty it would pay.
SkyCity Reaches Agreement with AUSTRAC
SkyCity is setting aside $73 million for the penalty and associated legal costs arising from the alleged AML breaches of its Adelaide casino, up from the $45 million provision originally announced in August. SkyCity and AUSTRAC have jointly informed the court about the agreement, and the matter will be subject to a hearing on June 7. The court will determine whether the agreed penalty is appropriate.
While the final amount remains uncertain pending the court’s decision, Mark Robertson, equities analyst at Forsyth Barr Investment Services, said the fine will likely be around $70 million, with legal costs expected to be as much as $3 million. Robertson said that amount would be significantly lower than the previously expected $100 million penalty.
SkyCity is one of three casino operators in Australia facing allegations of serious breaches of the AML/CTF Act. AUSTRAC launched proceedings against SkyCity in December 2022, claiming that the company allowed 59 high-risk patrons to gamble more than $4 billion in dirty cash through its Adelaide casino.
Similar proceedings against the beleaguered Crown Resorts resulted in a massive $450 million fine. The company, now owned by Blackstone, has been accused of facilitating money laundering and accommodating junket operators that had links with organized crime. Royal Commission inquiries later found that Crown was unfit to hold a license in Australia.
Star Entertainment Group is also facing a hefty penalty arising from AUSTRAC proceedings, with the operator providing $150 million for the case.
SkyCity’s Legal Troubles Continue
While SkyCity already reached an agreement with AUSTRAC, its legal battles are not over yet. The company is under investigation by the South Australian government and could end up losing its casino license in Adelaide. The casino operator is also dealing with regulatory issues in New Zealand and could have its license suspended for 10 days.