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SkyCity casinos facing court action from New Zealand government

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SkyCity casinos facing court action from New Zealand government
SkyCity’s New Zealand casinos are the latest in the region to be facing legal proceedings relating to their anti-money laundering and counter financial terrorism programs.

SkyCity Entertainment Group announced to the Australian and New Zealand stock markets on Sunday that New Zealand’s Department of Internal Affairs had informed the company that it will file civil penalty proceedings against SkyCity Casino Management Limited in New Zealand’s High Court this Friday for non-compliance with the country’s Anti-Money Laundering and Countering Financing of Terrorism Act. SkyCity Casino Management is a subsidiary of SkyCity Entertainment Group and holds the casino licences for the SkyCity casinos in Auckland, Queenstown and Hamilton.

SkyCity says the government has flagged five separate causes for the legal action which “allege significant compliance issues” in relation to the government act.

SkyCity says these causes are “largely, although not exclusively, historical matters” and that some of what is being put to the court SkyCity had already self-reported to the Department of Internal Affairs.

The company says it has been beefing up its anti-money laundering and counter financial terrorism programs since late 2021, including “significant investment in people and technology”.

In its statement, SkyCity says it “is disappointed that it has not met the standard to which it needs to hold itself, and this has resulted in the action taken by the department” adding that it would “engage constructively” with the government over the court proceedings.

SkyCity has indicated the maximum penalty for the proposed civil proceedings is $8 million.

SkyCity is also the owner of the soon-to-open New Zealand International Convention Centre (NZICC).

The company’s Australian casino SkyCity Adelaide is also subject to court action related to breaches of the anti-money laundering and counter financial terrorism act in Australia, with proceedings brought against it by Australia’s financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC. Similar proceedings have also been brought against Australia’s two other large casino operators, Crown and The Star, with Crown receiving a $450 million fine in the Australian courts.

SkyCity has already set aside AU$45 million to pay any Australian penalty received.

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