Crack Down On Money Laundering At Sydney’s Star Casino
Australia reiterated its focus on cracking down on cases of money laundering occurring in its casinos after an Asian gambler at Sydney’s Star Casino was arrested and later convicted by an Australian court for being unable to explain the source of funds he used to gamble at the casino.
San Wei Koh, a Singaporean citizen, was sentenced six months in prison by a New South Wales court for dealing with funds suspected of being the proceeds of a criminal racket.
According to media reports, Koh could not give any credible explanation regarding the source of over $1,000,000 in cash that he had in his possession.
Koh had declared to custom agents while entering Australia in April 2015 that he wasn’t carrying more than $10,000 in Australian money. But within eight days’ time he deposited $300,000 into a safety deposit box at The Star casino a further $700,000 the next day. Staff at casino decided to alert the police due to Koh’s suspicious behaviour.
Police took him into custody for questioning and found $700,000 remaining in Koh’s safety deposit box. When he was questioned on the source of his funds, San Wei Koh told the police that the $700,000 was from his aunt who allegedly ran a brothel in Newcastle and had requested him to collect it on behalf of her ex-husband living in China. Koh said that he went to his aunt’s house to collect it but since she wasn’t home he let himself in through an unlocked door, took a suitcase from her bedroom and left. He claimed that he transferred $100,000 to his uncle in China and kept the rest.
Australian police have since determined that the man Koh referred to as his ‘uncle’ in China does not exist. Further, the person named as Koh’s ‘aunt’ denied being related to Koh and has also denied allegations that he had obtained the $700,000 from her house. Since Koh could not provide precise information regarding the source of his funding he was arrested and charged by Australian authorities.
Presiding Judge Graeme Henson said that the facts presented were “somewhat convoluted” and that Koh’s testimony had “a sense of being less than the full narrative.” Judge Henson reduced Koh’s sentence after taking into account his cooperation with police to provide information on two other individuals engaged in money laundering and the subsequent confiscation of $1.59 million in “tainted money.”
In a statement, Judge Henson said,
The ability for persons to enter Australia from overseas, facilitate the washing of money through a casino and leave before the agencies of law enforcement are aware of their presence and conduct is such that the need for general deterrence is paramount.
The money found in Koh’s safety deposit box was confiscated and forfeited.