How political corruption works

By August 2, 2019Australian Politics

There have been numerous stories on the Crown Casino scandal in the media. This seemingly started with an investigation by what used to be Fairfax and 60 minutes (actually 38 minutes, the rest is ads). This investigation was apparently based on thousands of leaked internal documents from Crown. They alleged that the casino was not undertaking due diligence to ensure there were no links between junket operators, who pander to high-rollers, and organised crime. It was alleged that the junket operators were luring these high-rollers from mainland China where gambling is banned, and that Crown turned a blind eye to money laundering and exploited a weakness in Australia’s visa system, to fly in these Chinese high rollers without appropriate vetting1.

Crown defended themselves in saying they had “a comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program which is subject to ongoing regulatory supervision by AUSTRAC” and that “Crown itself has a robust process for vetting junket operators, including a combination of probity, integrity and police checks.”1

When these allegations originally aired, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they were a matter for law enforcement, not the government. Subsequently Attorney-General Christian Porter stated that further investigation was warranted and handballed it to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI)1. Given that ACLEI’s role is “to support the Integrity Commissioner to provide independent assurance to government about the integrity of prescribed law enforcement agencies and their staff members.” One of the agencies subject to the Integrity Commissioner’s jurisdiction is the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC)2. This seems to indicate that Porter is stating that AUSTRAC or someone in it suspect, or alternatively it is a method of sidetracking any investigation, by looking where the malfeasance isn’t.

In the Senate, Independent Andrew Wilkie called for Senate inquiry into the Crown scandal and stated that Morrison and the Leader of the Opposition, Anthony Albanese, should back the enquiry given there were concerns there had been failures by gambling regulators, immigration officials and border force3. The Labor Party voted with the government to hand the investigation over to ACLEI rather than have a senate enquiry.

It makes you wonder why the Labor Party would do this, given an opportunity to embarrass the government over what is laughably called ‘border protection’ provided by this scandal. That is, until you realise that these two parties were by far the largest beneficiaries of donations by Crown Resorts during the financial year 2017-20184. That is one way political corruption works in Australia.



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