‘That’s pretty serious evidence:’ Star executive points finger at debit card operator

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During his first day of testimony, Theodore was caught up in a series of emails between him and NAB executives dating back to 2017, which detailed China Union Pay’s demands on the true nature of transactions on their debit cards.

The emails sought assurances that strict controls were in place to prevent game credits from being placed through the casino’s China Union Pay terminals.

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The investigation heard that “fictitious” hotel bills were created to conceal the transactions, while the cards brought in at least $10-20 million from high profile customers each month.

Inquiry attorney Naomi Sharp, SC, said the billing practice was designed to “deceive the true purpose of the transactions, right?”

“I don’t believe that’s the case,” Theodore said.

The senior executive was repeatedly chastised for not answering questions from Bell and Sharp, who questioned whether he was being ‘truthful’ and ‘straightforward’ and suggested he wasn’t ‘making a genuine effort’ .

Theodore has been with The Star since 2011 and is currently a director of The Star Proprietary Limited, which holds the New South Wales casino license, along with former CEO Matt Bekier.

Theodore also denied a newspaper article published earlier this month that said he was preparing to quit the casino and that his resignation plans “have been communicated internally”.

“I have not made a decision about my continued employment with The Star,” he said. “So I continue to be employed as a CFO and will consider my position after providing my evidence.”

The investigation examining the casino’s license has already claimed Bekier’s scalp. However, another senior executive who testified, Michael Whytcross, also left the casino last month.

Whytcross, the former chief financial and trade officer, announced his resignation in December and had worked through his notice period this year, Theodore said.

This week’s inquest heard evidence that The Star lent $166 million to casino partner Sixin Qin, who was exposed as a ‘scammer’ and loan shark operating illegal online gambling sites in connection with a due diligence process.

Theodore saw the minutes of a credit committee meeting from May last year on Friday, which described the difficulties in getting Qin to repay the debts he owed.

“I believe he had an outstanding loan that we were looking to repay him at the time…approximately $12 million.”

Theodore said efforts to collect the debt failed because Qin was unwilling to disclose the source of the funds he would use.

Despite this, the casino’s anti-money laundering compliance officer considered him a suitable client to continue dealing with as recently as this year.

The investigation is continuing.

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