Ex Star CEO 'shocked' he OK'd dodgy credit

·3-min read

Former Star Entertainment boss Matt Bekier says he would be shocked if he knowingly gave the green light to an illegal practice used by the casino to extend credit to patrons.

Mr Bekier, who resigned as CEO in March after damning evidence at a probe into The Star casino, is facing a second day of questions on Tuesday at the inquiry by the gaming regulator.

Liquor and Gaming NSW is examining the fitness of Star to hold a Sydney casino licence, with the probe prompted by reports of the casino operator enabling suspected money laundering, organised crime, fraud and foreign interference.

Mr Bekier was shown documents from 2014 when he was the casino's chief financial officer where he was told of a "workaround" to bans on giving credit.

The cheque cashing facility scheme allowed China Union Pay (CUP) cards to be swiped at the hotel and users provided gaming chips before the funds ended up in the casino's bank account.

Mr Bekier approved the scheme which he was warned could be considered illegal by NSW gaming regulators.

"I have no recollection on making such a decision," Mr Bekier said.

"I'd be shocked if I agreed to that and it looks like I did.

"I can't explain that."

The practice was used by the casino to offer credit to patrons up until March 2020.

In 2015, as CEO, Mr Bekier approved a patron having his CUP card withdrawal limit raised from $500,000 to $11 million.

That patron then withdraw $22 million over three days.

National Australia Bank had previously warned the casino against the use of CUP terminals for gaming spending due to China's anti-capital flight laws.

Mr Bekier said he assumed NAB and CUP knew how the terminals were being used and didn't raise concerns despite the facilities being used to withdraw more than $900 million up until 2020.

But he also assumed his executive team would have told him of the risks, as well as others, and that no one ever raised the alarm that the casino was potentially engaging in illegal practices.

Earlier on Tuesday, Mr Bekier said the casino set up a Macau-based subsidiary, EEIS, to start offering what he called "more flexible" credit to patrons as regulators cracked down on the use of cheque cashing facilities to offer loans.

He agreed there were concerns at Star over Chinese banks' worries about the source of funds for some patrons.

Mr Bekier on Monday admitted to shortcomings in Star's overseas business, including its deployment of a China Union Pay debit card scheme, assessment of junket operators, and problems in its exclusive Sydney gaming room Salon 95.

The former CEO said he felt let down by managers in the VIP business and failed to challenge those inside The Star about their "dark art".

He has urged a full revamp of the casino's international department and emphasised the need for "fresh leadership" at the ASX-listed company.

Mr Bekier has told the inquiry he did not think Star Sydney's VIP business was out of control, and that it was unlikely the company's board knew of problems.

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