Chinese high roller deposits large sums of money at Star Casino Sydney
A billionaire from China deposited A$1.7 billion at Star Casino Sydney
Chinese billionaire Huang Xiangmo was banned from Australia years ago because he was seen as a security risk and possibly an agent of the Chinese government. Now it appears that during his stay in Australia between 2010 and 2018, the billionaire deposited as much as A$1.7 billion (€1.1 billion) into his account at the Star Casino Sydney. This did not lead to an investigation by the casino at the time into where the money came from, which is now causing a stir.
Huang Xiangmo moved to Australia in 2011 for his role as CEO at the Yuhu Group, a property development company in Sydney. During his time there, he donated millions of dollars to political parties. In February 2019, his citizenship application was rejected. His permanent residence permit was also revoked.
The authorities in Australia came to this decision because he had given illegal bribes to politicians. In addition, he might have worked for the United Front Work Department of the Chinese Communist Party. This Chinese unit collects intelligence and tries to influence elite individuals and organizations outside China.
It now appears that during his time in Australia, he deposited a staggering $1.3 billion (€11.7 billion) at The Star Casino Sydney.
Xiangmo deposited over a billion but lost far less
These figures were revealed during an investigation by the state of New South Wales. During the inquiry, they are looking at whether Star Entertainment is still fit for a gambling license in Sydney. In addition, there are allegations that they have broken anti-money laundering rules. They are also alleged to have done business with junkets that have links to organized crime.
Gambling is prohibited throughout China, except for the state-run lottery. In addition, the Chinese are not allowed to take too much money with them abroad, nor are they allowed to withdraw large sums of money while on holiday.
To allow wealthy Chinese gambling enthusiasts to gamble, there are so-called junkets in China, a kind of travel agency that organizes gambling holidays. These agencies can arrange the gambling trip from beginning to end, from booking the tickets and hotels to making sure gamblers have large sums of money at their disposal in land based casinos in Australia.
Investigation into star casino Sydney
According to the investigation, the Chinese billionaire deposited a tremendous amount of money at the Star Casino Sydney. However, the counsel assisting the inquiry, Caspar Conde, had noted that Xiangmo himself lost only a few tens of millions. That would suggest that he had deposited the money mainly for other players, who might have had links to the junkets.
Conde questioned Star Casino Sydney’s general financial crime and investigations manager, Kevin Houlihan, about the matter. He said he was never asked to look into the Xiangmo issue, despite depositing such a considerable amount.
Last year, Star Casino Sydney pulled the plug on a merger with Crown Resorts because the casino company might lose its license in Australia. That, too, was about breaking the rules on money laundering and possible involvement with junkets.