The operator of Adelaide’s casino has been ordered to pay a $67 million fine by the Federal Court over a money laundering case brought on by financial crimes agency AUSTRAC.

The civil action against SkyCity Adelaide found the company had failed to meet its requirements under anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism laws.

Allegations in court documents revealed the casino had customers with links to organised crime, loan sharking, human trafficking, and sex slavery.

On Friday, an AUSTRAC spokesperson said Sky City failed to carry out appropriate ongoing customer due diligence.

“Australia’s free and open economy can be exploited by bad actors to launder illicit funds, and money laundering remains an intractable issue that comes with significant harm to the public,” the spokesperson said.

“SkyCity admitted that its contraventions made it vulnerable to criminal exploitation, and exposed the Australian community and financial system to money laundering and terrorism financing risk.”

The spokesperson said the casino’s failure over many years allowed high-risk customers to move millions of dollars through the casino.

“In ways that made the source and ownership of the funds unclear,” they said.

“It failed to carry out required checks on 121 customers, including where SkyCity knew customers were the subject of law enforcement interest, or where there were indications that some posed a higher risk of money laundering.”

The company has also been ordered to pay $3 million in costs.

AUSTRAC acting chief executive,Peter Soros said casinos, like all businesses, must take their anti-money laundering obligations seriously.

“Criminals will always seek to take advantage of the gambling sector to clean their dirty money,” Mr Soros said.

“Today’s result shows AUSTRAC is prepared to take action when businesses, including casinos, fail to comply with the legislation. 

“Businesses who ignore their obligations are affecting the Australian community by leaving the door open to criminal activity.”

SkyCity Adelaide has also been ordered to pay $3 million in costs.(ABC News: Michael Clements)

In May, SkyCity Adelaide and AUSTRAC said they had filed a joint submission with the Federal Court to propose a $67 million penalty over the casino’s misconduct.

South Australia’s Consumer and Businesses Services department appointed retired Supreme Court judge Brian Martin KC in 2022 to investigate whether SkyCity was suitable to operate the casino.

That investigation had been put on hold while AUSTRAC pursued SkyCity through the Federal Court court.

In a separate legal case SkyCity said the High Court had agreed to hear an appeal on how state government taxes are calculated on loyalty rewards points.

The casino has been in a dispute with the South Australian government about whether the loyalty points constitute as taxable revenue when customers convert them to gamble on gaming machines.

In a statement to the stock exchange, SkyCity said it secured a High Court appeal against an earlier South Australian Supreme Court ruling.

If it is unsuccessful, SkyCity said it could be forced to pay more than $22 million.

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