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Star Entertainment review extended to 31 August

| By Robert Fletcher
An independent review of Star Entertainment Group and its land-based casino in Sydney has been extended by an additional two months to allow for more witnesses to give evidence.

Led by Adam Bell SC, the review had been due to run until 30 June, but will now continue until 31 August after summonses were issued for further witnesses to appear.

The New South Wales Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority approved the extension after Bell requested more time to undertake further lines of inquiry in order to fully discharge his duties.

“The Authority is fully supportive of Mr Bell examining additional witnesses and giving further consideration to a number of key issues,” Authority chairperson Philip Crawford said.

Acknowledging the extension, Star said it would continue to fully cooperate with the review.

The initial review launched in June of last year after concerns were raised about The Star Sydney’s interactions with junkets and money laundering prevention measures. This was then expanded in January this year to assess other entities within the group.

Public hearings into Star’s activities, which are ongoing, have so far heard a series of claims, including that Star allowed junket operator Suncity to operate its own cage at the Star Sydney casino, where it exchanged chips for cash, despite this contravening the New South Wales Casino Control Act.

The case also asserts that Star’s representations about policies being in place to mitigate risks such as money laundering, corruption, bribery, insider trading and restrictions on the use of gambling products were misleading or deceptive.

Last month, Star’s long-serving chief executive and managing director Matt Bekier stepped down from both roles in response to issues raised during the ongoing review of the Star Sydney casino.

Upon tendering his resignation, Bekier said as managing director and CEO, he is accountable for the “effectiveness and adequacy of the company’s processes, policies, people and culture”.

Last week, Star announced the appointment of John O’Neill as interim executive chairman with immediate effect. O’Neill will lead the business in his new role following the exit of Bekier.

Also last week, Star was served with a securities class action lawsuit by Slater & Gordon on behalf of investors seeking compensation for alleged “misleading or deceptive representations” the operator made about its compliance with regulatory obligations.

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