Australia’s Corporate Watchdog Takes Legal Action Against Past and Present Star Casino Executives and Directors

December 27, 2022 | Casinos

AUSTRALIA (December 13, 2022) — Australia’s corporate watchdog has launched legal action against past and current directors and executives of casino giant The Star Entertainment, following public inquiries into its NSW and Queensland operations.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) announced on Tuesday it has begun civil proceedings in the Federal Court against 11 people linked to the company.

According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) they include former chair John O’Neill, ex-chief executive Matthias Bekier, Kathleen Lahey, Richard Sheppard, Gerard Bradley, Sally Pitkin, Ben Heap and Zlatko Todorcevski.

It will be alleged in court that board members breached their duties under the Corporations Act between 2017 and 2019.

ASIC deputy chair, Sarah Court, said it is alleged board members “failed to give sufficient focus to the risk of money laundering and criminal associations, which are inherent in the operation of a large casino with an international customer base”.

ASIC alleges board members approved the expansion of Star’s relationship to individuals “with reported criminal links”, putting the company at risk of money laundering.

It is also alleged that board members did not take steps to prevent the potential for money laundering even when notified of those “critical risks”.

ASIC said this constituted a “breach of their director duty obligations”.

Ms Court said ASIC was seeking from the court declarations of contraventions, the imposition of penalties and disqualification orders in relation to individuals who were “at the peak” of the organisation.

“This court case really deals with who are the people that should be held accountable for these [alleged] significant governance failures,” she said.

“Individuals that have engaged, if ASIC’s case is made out … in conduct of this kind should not be appropriately able to act as directors for other companies.”

According to the ABC each alleged breach carries a maximum penalty of $1.05 million.

SOURCE: The Australian Broadcasting Corporation.

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