Poker machine money laundering inquiry launches

Commissioner of the NSW Crime Commission Michael Barnes has invited submissions to the Commission’s inquiry into money laundering in pubs and clubs.

“Working with the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority and the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, we’ve established that last year $85 billion was gambled in poker machines in pubs and clubs in NSW,” Barnes said.

“We simply don’t know how much of that was the proceeds of crime being laundered by or on behalf of criminal syndicates, but when so much money is involved it is reasonable to suspect some level of criminal activity.

“We aren’t starting with any preconceptions about the extent of that criminal activity. We know pubs and clubs deliver valuable community services and are assured ClubsNSW, the peak body for the industry, is committed to stamping out illegality.

“However, we expect the expert investigators, data analysts, lawyers and intelligence officers working on this project to uncover activities not previously known to operators or regulators that will assist to ensure pubs and clubs stay profitable while the community is protected.”

Earlier this month, authorities said they believed criminal gangs are using poker machines at small regional pubs and clubs to launder the proceeds of illegal drug dealing and prostitution, with tens of thousands of dollars being put into the machines in a single sitting.

The ILGA data monitoring system has identified suspect transactions at pubs and clubs in the Cessnock, Maitland, Queanbeyan-Palerang, Coffs Harbour and Bland local government areas.

These are in addition to $5.5 million worth of suspicious transactions detected at poker machines across 180 venues in Sydney since the city came out of lockdown in early October, a figure that is growing at the rate of $1 million a week.

“Over an annual period, I’d suggest it’s in the hundreds of millions,” ILGA director of investigations David Byrne told the ABC.

As part of the inquiry, the Commission is calling for submissions regarding the nature and extent of money laundering through licensed venues in NSW. Members of the public, academics with an interest in the area, current or past employees of pubs or clubs are invited to make submissions which can be kept confidential if desired.

The deadline for submissions is January 28, 2022.

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Categories: Business