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Casino ‘high roller’ stole $78 million from Asian banks

Image of casino roulette table

AUSTRAC contributed to a joint international investigation sparked by the suspicious behaviour of a prominent Asian businessman. The investigation exposed a multi-million dollar global fraud committed by an Asian finance manager, who was known as a habitual gambler and international casino ‘high roller’.

Authorities in Asia suspected that the suspect had defrauded a number of international banks. AUSTRAC received an international request for information from counterparts in Asia, seeking assistance with their enquiries with regard to the financial activity of the target while he was in Australia.

AUSTRAC data identified that the suspect had conducted significant international funds transfers to Australian casinos, had visited Australia to gamble at the casinos, and had left Australia with substantial amounts of money, presumed to be the proceeds of his gambling. This information proved the initial suspicions of AUSTRAC’s Asian counterparts that the suspect had transferred funds to casinos in Australia.

The suspect was arrested and subsequently admitted to Asian authorities that he had embezzled approximately AUD78 million from four international banks by forging signatures of executives of his company and opening accounts in the name of his employer.

Over a four-year period the suspect transferred approximately AUD190 million into an Australian casino account via international funds transfer instructions (IFTIs). In addition, the suspect had visited a number of casinos in London, Macau and Malaysia, in some instances placing bets worth up to AUD400,000.

The authorities in Asia requested further assistance from Australian law enforcement to trace additional proceeds of the suspect’s fraud. In conjunction with AUSTRAC, Australian law enforcement discovered an additional 
AUD30 million in accounts with various Australian casinos, held in the name of the suspect. Of this amount, 
AUD7 million was restrained by Australian law enforcement under the Proceeds of Crime Act 2002 and a portion of this was repatriated back to the investigating authorities in Asia.

The suspect pleaded guilty in Asia to six counts of forgery and eight counts of cheating and was subsequently sentenced to 42 years imprisonment.

Offence

  • Money laundering
  • Embezzlement

Customer

  • Individual
  • Business

Industry

  • Banking (ADIs)
  • Gambling services

Channel

  • Physical
  • Electronic

Report type

  • IFTI

Jurisdiction

  • International – Macau, Malaysia, United Kingdom

Designated service

  • Account and deposit-taking services
  • Gambling services

Indicators

  • Correlation between high-volume account activity and gambling activity
  • Opening and use of business accounts to transfer funds to Australian and offshore casinos
  • Recent business transaction activity inconsistent with previous transaction history
  • Sudden increase in high-value activity in a casino account
  • Sudden increase in incoming/outgoing high-value international funds transfers through a casino account
Last modified: 30/07/2015 15:37