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Star managers to testify in casino probe

Senior casino managers are set to give evidence at the third week of a royal commission style inquiry into whether The Star Sydney should keep its licence.

The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority is investigating whether The Star Sydney has been infiltrated by criminal activity, and if its casino licence should be stripped following damning media reports.

The inquiry was sparked by reports accusing the venue’s owner, Star Entertainment Group, of enabling suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference at its gaming facilities, including its Sydney casino.

Star NSW regulatory manager David Aloi is expected to continue giving evidence on Monday, with other witnesses due to be called including general counsels Oliver White and Andrew Power, and chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin.

Mark Walker, senior vice president of premium services operations at Star Entertainment is also due to testify.

The inquiry has been told of a controversial private gaming room Salon 95, part of the casino’s so-called “international rebate business” – known as junkets – that involved huge marketing efforts to attract VIP patrons from mainland China.

It has also been told how China Union Pay – a Chinese financial services company – prohibited gambling transactions on its CUP debit cards, but that Star was able to disguise wagering on the as hotel accommodation charges.

On one occasion, some $11 million of transactions were conducted in under five minutes using CUP cards billed to the hotel room of a long-time Star gambler Phillip Dong Fang Lee, the inquiry has been told.

About $900 million was transacted on the CUP cards until terminals inside Star Entertainment casinos were disabled in 2020.

The probe is set to conclude public hearings on April 1.

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