For the past few days, all around the internet, there was video footage showing a man casually entering Crown Casino in Melbourne with a shopping bag full of cash. It is clear from the footage that there are hundreds of thousands of dollars in the bag.
This was captured by the casino’s own security cameras, and the man on the video remains unknown. He is handing over $50 and $100 bills inside the Suncity junket room. The most interesting part is that the bag with the money is actually a freezer shopping bag, and the bills are wrapped with elastic bands. He waits for the money to be exchanged for chips while casually talking to casino personnel.
The footage was leaked thanks to three inspectors of Victorian state (who are whistleblowers). The man who publicly released this video is Andrew Wilkie, who is actually an independent member for Clark.
This room in the casino is specially arranged for people who come from abroad with a lot of money. According to one of the whistleblowers, not all the money they bring is clean, and it often happens that those bags are filled with illegally acquired money.
In 2017, the Suncity room faced closure due to an alleged connection with organized crime, but in the end, it remained open. And people who come there with their bags of money are never challenged by casino staff. As a matter of fact, the casino personnel doesn’t even care about that. Anybody can walk in and bring as much money as they wish. They can also bring company, and basically, there are no safety controls in there. That’s the reason why this Suncity room is often connected to money laundering.
Even the presence of Victoria police was reduced inside, and therefore, suspected criminals were able to launder their money as they wanted to. But now, Wilkie asked for a royal commission since he is indeed sure that this video footage follows earlier money laundering and many other illegal activities. This casino is also accused of illegally bringing people into Australia just to gamble since you cannot find many of these rooms around the world.
Inspectors believe that, inside this room, money laundering happens on a regular basis, and now, they have video footage to support their beliefs. The casino won’t be able to claim that nothing is happening since the video was made with their cameras.
Wilkie believes that this casino has political cover, and if things like this happen again, it will just prove that his beliefs are true. He thinks that this is a demonstration of failure on the major parties, among which is Australian federal police.
The security camera that captured the video swung around at one point and zoomed in the money on the counter. The whistleblowers wonder why anyone would come to the casino with that amount of money, instead of going straight to the bank. There is one possible answer — the money might not be legitimate. They claimed that the same person returned in this room and deposited much more money weeks later.
You may be wondering how money can be laundered in a casino. People bring money and exchange it for large-value chips. Later, they cash out those chips, and the money is all cleaned up. That is something that happens weekly, according to Wilkie.
He also revealed one interesting interview. Namely, a driver from this casino told everything about those high rollers. They come to Australia with private jets, and that’s how they don’t even pass the customs checks — the driver is waiting for them in a limo, and he takes them directly to the casino. The driver said that he needed to provide them with all the things they asked for, whether it was something legal or something illegal like drugs. His answer needed to be positive always, no matter what.
He also pointed out that the casino was willing to cover up those crimes just because it was good for business. They don’t worry about the crime; as far as they are concerned, they only need people to come, gamble, drink, and spend money.
Of course, the casino denied everything. They said there was no basis for accusations like this, and that they had always had great respect for regulatory requirements. They also said that all transactions over $10,000 were always reported, and the casino would continue to report them alongside any suspicious transactions of any value.
They pointed out that they would like to continue working with the authorities as they did so far.
Christian Porter, the attorney general, said that the most fitting agency for investigation was ACLEI. They have the powers that are comparable to those of a royal commission. He added that the commission would inform other authorities of any uncovered illegal activities not related to federal agencies.