The Queensland probe into Star Entertainment’s casino operations in the state started earlier today and it’s looking into, among other things, the state government’s backing of the Queen’s Wharf Brisbane project by Star, which carries a price tag of AU$3.6 billion ($2.50 billion) and was approved despite the group’s suspected links to various criminal organizations across Asia.
Probity Checks That Should Have Never Failed
The probe has already had a bearing on Star Entertainment’s financial results, suppressing profitability and forcing the Group into a $33 million net loss. The latest revelations come from ABC Investigations, an Australian media outlet, which raised questions about Star Entertainment’s alleged relationship with Chow Tai Fook, a jewelry company with ties to Stanley Ho’s casinos and Alvin Chau’s junket business.
The issue, ABC argues, is that Fook and Far East Consortium, a Hong Kong-based development company, each hold a 4.99% stake in Star Entertainment and a 25% stake in the upcoming casino development project. ABC has urged authorities to seek an explanation of how it was possible for regulators to miss the suspicious profile of Fook and how it was possible for the company to cajole Fook as an investor.
This is even more important at a time when a precedent exists, argues ABC. For one, Fook already failed probity checks once in New South Wales back in 1987. This, though, has not alarmed authorities in Queensland. However, Queensland officials responded to the publication and stated that there had been no criminal links established between Chow Tai Fook and any of the parties alleged in the article.
ABC went even further arguing that Fook has been connected to the “Broken Tooth” triad and its boss, the infamous Wan Kuok Koi. The media’s own investigation has fallen on mostly deaf ears. Queensland attorney-general Shannon Fentiman initiated the probe in Queensland taking a cue from a similar development in New South Wales.
Failure by Governments and Officials
Other prominent officials involved in the project or at least overseeing its development under their time in office, including Queensland premier Campbell Newman, have denied knowledge of connections between Chow Tai Fook and any criminal organizations.
Newman added that the new revelations were disturbing and that they should never have been allowed under the succeeding government, that of Annastacia Palaszczuk who defeated Newman in the 2015 elections and later gave the project the green light. All of this remains highly speculative with the investigation into Star Entertainment surely to furnish answers to these pressing matters.