Crown Allowed Convicted Arms Dealer to Gamble $6 Million

It seems there is not a day goes by that Crown Resorts’ name is not dragged through the mud. Australian casinos’ crown jewel, pardon the pun, faces more disturbing allegations, this time relating to a convicted arms dealer.

Claims a convicted arms dealer gambled away $6 million of ill-gotten gains are the latest development to recent scandals. Crown, of course, strongly denies these fresh allegations, but evidence points to them being true.

ABC reported Crown hosted Joseph Wong Kiia Tai and allowed him to gamble $6 million between 2010-18. This happened despite Wong is a convicted arms dealer who the United Nations placed under sanctions. The UN sanction froze Wong’s assets and banned him from travelling in 2004 following his conviction. Wong provided financial and military support to Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor and found guilty.

Convicted Arms Dealer With Ties To Jailed President

Taylor is the former President of Liberia. A court sentenced Taylor to 50-years imprisonment for war crimes. After escaping from a United States prison in 1985, Taylor founded the National Patriotic Front of Liberia (NPFL) in his home country. His troops were partly responsible for the First Liberian Civil War.

Seventy-five percent of Liberia allegedly voted for Taylor in the 1997 general election and he became president. His reign ended with his resignation in August 2003. Later that year, Taylor appeared on Interpol’s most-wanted list for crimes against humanity and breaches of the 1949 Geneva Convention. A court found Taylor guilty on 11 counts, including terrorism, murder, rape, enslavement, and torture. He is now serving a 50-year sentence at HM Prison Frankland, United Kingdom.

Wong was able to visit Crown casinos in Melbourne and Perth despite the UN sanctions imposed on him. Several visits to the high roller sections of the casinos saw Wong lose more than $6 million. The year 2015 saw sanctions lifted. Reports circulating in the media suggest Wong gained access to Australia via junkets while banned from travelling.

Crown has already faced allegations of using junkets to recruit Chinese VIPs to its properties. Junkets serve as a financial middleman between Crown and the high rollers, allegedly providing private jets into Australia that negate the need for visas or going through customs.

Government Aware of Arms Dealer Visits

The Department of Home Affairs confirmed it is aware of the allegations against Crown. A spokesperson said, “it thoroughly investigates instances of misuse of the visa system and takes action to mitigate against further occurrences, where appropriate.”

The company takes its obligations “very seriously” said a Crown spokesman. The same spokesman added, “Crown has no interests in being used by criminal elements.” Furthermore, “In support of this, Crown works closely with Australia’s law enforcement and regulatory agencies on a range of matters, and assists in providing information for ongoing and new investigations. Crown is bound by a number of non-disclosure requirements including those imposed under legislation and by law enforcement agencies.”

Long List of Negative press For Crown

These fresh allegations come only days after a whistleblower showed CCTV footage of hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash being exchanged in Crown’s high roller rooms. The whistleblower accused Crown of failing to properly report its financial transactions. Current law state casinos must report any transaction over $10,000 to Australia’s anti-money laundering authority. This poses the question: how did Wong, a convicted arms dealer, manage to gamble $6 million without triggering these reports?

Wong could only have sustained massive losses by using profits from him being a convicted arms dealer. Surely Crown and other casinos have a duty to look into where these gargantuan sums of money come from? Should not a casino be turning away these horrible characters based purely on moral grounds? These are questions Crown executives need to face from the authorities, especially after Taylor’s atrocities.  Will that happen whenever the authorities investigate the claims? Probably not, if previous investigations are anything to base judgement on.