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The star manager denies an “open door” for crime


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Star Entertainment’s chief risk and legal affairs manager dismissed that gaming giants ’use of China’s controversial debit card scheme at The Star Sydney had left the casino“ wide open ”for organized crime.

Pala Martin, Star’s chief legal officer and risk officer, on Wednesday resumed her witness stand at the Royal Commission-style investigation, which examined the suitability of the gaming giant, listed on the ASX list, to have a casino license in Sydney.

Ms. Martin was interviewed by a lawyer assisting Naomi Sharp SC, about Star’s use of China Union Pay debit cards in The Star Sydney between 2013 and 2020, in a process where the purchase of gaming chips was presented as a hotel fee.

About $ 900 million went to the casino until the CUP process was stopped, the investigation said, and Ms. Martin at one point approved an increase in Philip Dong Fang Lee’s check cashing limit by $ 11 million tied to his CUP card.

Ms. Sharpe told Ms. Martin that “it is conceivable” that the CUP process at the casino could have included The Star, which deals with proceeds of crime.

“Ms. Sharpe, I think that’s a very broad statement,” she replied.

Ms. Martin dismissed allegations that organized crime officials took advantage of the CUP process, calling it “inappropriate” and calling it “not the characteristic I would use.”

She also denied that the “reality” at Sydney Casino was that through the CUP The Star card process “it left the door wide open for organized crime”.

“I do not agree with that,” the witness replied.

The casino’s lawyer also disagreed with Ms. Sharpe’s suggestion that Star “completely worsens” restrictions on withdrawing capital from China through the company’s use of CUP cards.

“No, I don’t agree with that,” she said.

“None of your answers to my questions this morning were sincere and sincere?” Mrs. Sharpe then gave a witness.

“I believe I am doing my best to do that, Ms. Sharpe,” Ms. Martin replied.

Ms. Sharpe argued that at no point did Ms. Martin “call” the CUP arrangement improper or unethical in her dealings with lawyers, management or the Star Board.

Ms. Martin replied, “I would be sitting here today and saying that during this time it is not in our value to do the right thing.”

Ms. Martin has already admitted that she made a mistake during the investigation, claiming the right to professional privileges on the KPMG report criticizing Star’s anti-money laundering processes, but denied that it was an attempt to protect the company from regulators.

The investigation is ongoing.

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