SYDNEY: Australia’s Crown Resorts has agreed to pay a civil penalty of Aus$450 million (US$290 million) for breaches of anti-money laundering and anti-terrorism financing legislation at two of its casinos.

Crown admitted it had failed to take appropriate measures to spot and prevent such crimes at its Melbourne and Perth casinos, in a deal announced Tuesday by Crown and the government’s financial crime body AUSTRAC.

“The casino sector is at risk of exploitation by organised criminals seeking to clean their dirty money, money which criminals make through the sale of illicit drugs, scams and even human trafficking,“ the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre said.

Crown had allowed a range of “obviously high-risk practices” to carry on unchecked for many years, said AUSTRAC chief executive Nicole Rose.

The penalty is still subject to approval by the Federal Court at a hearing scheduled for July 10-11.

Crown Resorts chief executive Ciaran Carruthers said the company had changed since the offences, which occurred before its acquisition by US asset manager Blackstone was completed in June 2022.

“I want to reiterate that these historical failings were unacceptable and on behalf of Crown Resorts, our new owners and leadership, I apologise for the failings of the past,“ Carruthers said.

AUSTRAC announced last November it had also launched penalty proceedings against Crown’s rival casino operator Star Entertainment Group, alleging “serious and systemic non-compliance” with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws. -AFP