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Star chairman to continue casino evidence

Outgoing Star Entertainment chairman John O’Neill will continue his testimony at an inquiry examining whether the gaming company is fit to keep its Sydney casino licence.

The royal commission-style inquiry is probing the ASX-listed company after allegations emerged it enabled suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference at its venues, including The Star Sydney.

Many of Star’s top brass, including managing director and chief executive Matt Bekier, chief financial officer Harry Theodore, chief casino officer Greg Hawkins, and chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin have left in recent months.

Mr O’Neill, who tendered his resignation as chairman late last week, fronted the inquiry on Monday saying Star was in the middle of a “cathartic moment”.

He has so far told the probe parts of the company’s business went “very badly wrong”, especially its international rebate and VIP divisions related to junkets, China Union Pay and offshore bank accounts.

He conceded there have been examples at Star of untruthfulness, errors of judgement, lack of oversight and unethical conduct by senior managers.

He has admitted Star was not good enough at times in its dealings with regulators AUSTRAC and the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

He has testified that bad habits went undetected at Star as part of an industry wide problem which now requires “as much cleansing as possible”.

“That’s what we’ve attempted to do,” he said.

Star announced on Monday that Ben Heap will assume the role of interim chairman, while Geoff Hogg will become acting chief executive.

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