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Exiled Star gambler held two passports

An inquiry into Star’s Sydney casino has heard a second passport belonging to a prolific gambler who was exiled from Australia in 2019 was not investigated or shared with the NSW gaming regulator.

Star’s chief financial crime officer Skye Arnott and general counsel corporate Oliver White are scheduled to appear at the inquiry on Friday, which will continue next week.

Ms Arnott will likely be asked about internal discussions regarding prolific Star customer Huang Xiangmo’s two passports, only one of which was shared with the NSW gambling regulator.

The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority is conducting the inquiry to determine Star’s fitness to retain its Sydney casino licence.

The hearing heard on Thursday from Star’s general manager of financial crime and investigations Kevin Houlihan, who may also return on Friday after private deliberations ended Thursday’s hearing.

He earlier told the hearing he was the one who made the ultimate decision to end the company’s relationship with Macau-based junket operator Suncity, following the arrest of its CEO Alvin Chau in November 2021.

Mr Chau’s arrest came years after concerns were first raised within Star about the junket operator’s money laundering risks and links to organised crime.

Mr Houlihan said he did not recall being asked to investigate Mr Huang’s multiple passports, and Ms Arnott’s proposed explanations on their discrepancies were general in nature, not relating specifically to the gambler or an investigation the casino had conducted.

Star was aware of Mr Huang’s second passport at least as early as 2017, and of the billion dollars in buy-ins he’d made on table games in the preceding years, the inquiry heard.

His permanent residency and citizenship application were both cancelled in 2019 amid foreign interference concerns.

The inquiry has already prompted the resignation of Star CEO Matt Bekier and sparked calls for a similar inquiry into Star’s two Queensland casinos.

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