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SkyCity Adelaide and the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) have jointly proposed a penalty of AU$67 million (€41.2 million) to the Federal Court of Australia. This proposal comes in response to allegations of significant and systemic non-compliance with anti-money laundering (AML) and counter-terrorism financing (CTF) laws, initially brought against SkyCity Adelaide by AUSTRAC in 2022. 

This development follows a legislative last month that seeks to not only raise penalties for criminal offences but also cover past and future conduct, enabling retrospective fines. 

Admittance of breaches 

SkyCity Adelaide has admitted to breaching the AML/CTF Act 2006. The breaches include deficiencies in its AML/CTF programs, failing to meet required standards, and not conducting adequate ongoing due diligence for higher-risk customers and transactions. This agreement with includes an acknowledgment of these violations and a proposed penalty, pending court approval. A hearing to review the proposed settlement is scheduled for June 7. 

Regulatory concerns and responses 

AUSTRAC CEO Brendan Thomas highlighted the necessity of the action due to concerns that SkyCity’s practices allowed high-risk activities and customer relationships to continue unchecked. Thomas emphasized the importance of casinos and the broader gaming sector adhering to AML/CTF obligations to prevent money laundering and terrorism financing risks. 

SkyCity’s executive chairman, Julian Cook, issued a public apology, acknowledging the company's failure to meet required standards. "We acknowledge that, as a casino operator, we play a key role in combating money laundering and terrorism financing and safeguarding the community against these risks. While we take this responsibility seriously, we accept we have failed to live up to the standard required of us and for this, on behalf of the SkyCity and SkyCity Adelaide Boards and management teams, I apologize.” 

Commitment to improvement 

SkyCity has committed to enhancing its AML/CTF practices. The company plans to appoint an independent expert to review its AML/CTF program, develop a comprehensive enhancement program, and implement governance changes to focus on compliance. The company has also invested in AML/CTF resourcing and capability, strengthened relationships with law enforcement, and adopted revised AML/CTF programs. 

Leadership changes and future actions 

SkyCity Entertainment Group recently appointed former Aristocrat executive Jason Walbridge as its new Chief Executive Officer. The company reiterated its commitment to ongoing enhancement activities in both New Zealand and Australia, aiming to fully comply with regulatory expectations and safeguard against financial crimes. 

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Jenny Ortiz
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