Federal Government ADMITS to visa deal with Crown Casino so they could draw in high-stakes gamblers from China
- Home Affairs admitted to having a deal with Crown Casinos from 2003 to 2016
- The agreement with stakeholders allowed the fast-tracking of short-stay visas
- The government maintained that no applicants were given special treatment
The Department of Home Affairs has admitted to striking a visa deal with Crown Casinos which allowed the company to lure high-stakes Chinese gamblers to Australia.
The agreement, revealed to have been implemented in 2003, allowed the fast-tracking of short-stay visa applications for a number of big international companies up until 2016.
The government, however, denied the deal involved special treatment to applicants, insisting each case was vetted as usual.
‘Our offices in China are well aware of the risks that may be present in their case loads and they scrutinise and manage applications accordingly,’ a Department of Home Affairs spokesman told Nine.
‘These arrangements always make it clear that applicants are subject to the full range of applicable checks.’
The Department of Home Affairs admitted it had a visa deal with Crown Casino and other international companies
Billonaire James Packer has a 26 per cent stake in Crown Casinos
The revelations come on the back of a series of reports, accusing Crown of laundering large sums of money through its Melbourne gaming venue – claims the casino giant has strongly denied.
The short-stay visas arrangement involving Crown’s clients began during the Howard coalition government, continued under the Gillard Labor government in 2011 but ended five years later.
In a statement on Monday, Crown defended itself against the earlier claims of money laundering, following the reports claiming large sums of money had been put through its Melbourne gaming venue.
‘Crown has a comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program which is subject to regulatory supervision by AUSTRAC,’ its statement read.
Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie will on Tuesday call for a parliamentary inquiry into Crown, with Centre Alliance MP Rebekha Sharkie expected to back his push.
Labor is not ruling out backing an inquiry, but wants Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton to explain what has happened.
The minister is in London for meetings with representative from the Five Eyes security alliance.
‘We need to actually hear from the minister about this,’ Labor deputy leader Richard Marles told ABC Radio National.
Roy Whye Wah Moo (pictured) was captured on CCTV laundering money through Crown for Chinese gangs in 2013
‘It does relate to the relationship between Crown and the Home Affairs department through to Australian Border Force.’
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the coalition government was taking the issue seriously.
‘It is a very serious topic and deals with the integrity not only of our gaming industry but issues that go to law enforcement and border protection,’ he told parliament on Monday.
Crown’s attempts to lure big gamblers to their Melbourne and Perth casinos prompted a Chinese government anti-corruption operation in October 2016.
The crackdown resulted in 19 former and serving Crown employees being arrested by Chinese authorities.