Go to top of page

‘Bankrupt’ suspect used casino to launder million dollar drug payments

Image of two dice being thrown across table

Law enforcement began an investigation into a known criminal identity who was suspected of being involved in numerous large-scale drug importations into Australia. The suspect was connected to criminal groups within Australia, including networks which provided specialised money laundering services. Analysis conducted by law enforcement authorities and AUSTRAC indicated that, despite being declared bankrupt, the suspect had deposited and withdrawn significant amounts of cash at Australian casinos and via betting accounts. These transactions in excess of AUD10,000 were reported to AUSTRAC. The suspect was also involved in the purchase and sale of race horses during the period of interest.

In 2007 AUSTRAC proactively disseminated a financial intelligence assessment to law enforcement agencies which detailed the suspect’s gambling and betting activity at several casinos around Australia. AUSTRAC information identified:

  • the suspect had conducted structured cash deposits worth approximately AUD57,000 into betting accounts
  • minimal significant cash deposits made at Australian casinos, indicating that the suspect may have been structuring cash buy-ins at the casinos
  • the suspect had begun using a betting account held in the name of a third party to layer illicit funds and place bets with registered bookmakers. The bookmakers returned any subsequent winnings to the third-party betting account, where the funds were withdrawn or transferred into the suspect’s bank account
  • suspect transaction reports (SUSTRs) submitted to AUSTRAC also provided further important information about the suspect. The suspect was the subject of an exclusion order prohibiting him from entering or remaining at a specific casino. The exclusion order related to one casino only. AUSTRAC information indicated the suspect withdrew more than AUD1.8 million in a series of large cash withdrawals at other Australian casinos. All of the withdrawals were gambling chip/token cash outs or payouts from electronic gaming machines.

Given the large amounts of cash the suspect was withdrawing from Australian casinos, authorities believed the suspect was moving illicit funds through Australian casinos in an attempt to disguise the withdrawn funds as legitimate winnings.

This matter became subject to a subsequent wider investigation into a major transnational network of drug trafficking syndicates.

Case 17 – Bankrupt suspect used casino to launder million dollar drug payments

Case 17 – ‘Bankrupt’ suspect used casino to launder million dollar drug payments


  • Drug trafficking
  • Money laundering




  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Gambling services



Report type




Designated service

  • Account and deposit-taking services
  • Gambling services


  • Customer undertaking transactions which appear to be inconsistent with their profile and/or transaction history:
  • Large casino chip cash-outs
  • Large electronic gaming machine payouts
  • Multiple cash deposits below AUD10,000 (i.e. ‘structuring’)
  • Use of third-party gaming accounts
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:34