The investigation of the Australian gambling company Star Entertainment continues. The operator was accused of being linked to organized crime and may have also lied to shareholders, finds show.
Currently, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is reviewing whether Star is suitable to hold a license. Adding to the previous allegations, the regulator recently learned that the company has also misled its investors.
This refers to a statement by Ben Heap, Star Entertainment’s director, who addressed shareholders on October 11. It turns out Heap denied many of the allegations against the company and reassured investors that the media reports are misleading. Heap claimed that reports by news outlets such as Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and The Age are overblown for the sake of sensationalism.
Regardless of whether Heap believed his claims or not, investors didn’t buy them and Star’s shares plummeted. That same day saw Star’s stock lose 23% of its value, which translates to $740 million.
Business News Australia reported a conversation between Heal and inquiry Casper Conde. Specifically, Conde brought Heap’s attention to his October claims and asked him whether he thinks he’s been untruthful.
Heap denied that Star Entertainment tried to mislead its stakeholders on purpose. Instead, he insisted that this was the company’s way to explain to investors that it didn’t agree with some of the allegations. Heap accused the news outlets of seeking a sensation and said that their claims didn’t properly reflect how Star Entertainment saw the situation.
This isn’t the first time Star has been accused of being untruthful.
The Inquiry Brought Interesting Information to Light
The investigation of Star Entertainment’s shady business practices continues as more and more questionable findings resurge. The inquiry found out that Star Entertainment had close ties with the Chinese junket Suncity. Furthermore, the Australian operator allowed it to run Salon 95, an unregulated gambling shop on the premises of one of its casinos.
One of the salon’s visitors was Huang Xiangmo, a dangerous Chinese billionaire who deposited over $1.3 billion between 2010 and 2018. The Australian government eventually kicked Xiangmo out of the country for allegedly working for the United Front Work Department.
The allegations against Star Entertainment forced the company to make some drastic changes to its team. Numerous high-ranking employees left the company as the inquiry continues. This included Matt Bekier, Star’s ex-CEO who said he feels responsible for the mess. John O’Neill later assumed the position, although not everyone was happy with the choice.