Australia: Crown casinos hosted alleged former arms dealer with links to Liberian war criminal despite UN sanctions - - PressFrom - Australia
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Australia Crown casinos hosted alleged former arms dealer with links to Liberian war criminal despite UN sanctions

17:17  16 october  2019
17:17  16 october  2019 Source:   abc.net.au

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A Dutch arms dealer , convicted of crimes against humanity and for selling firearms to former Liberian president Charles Taylor, has been granted bail in He faces possible extradition to the Netherlands, where he faces a 19-year jail sentence, for crimes committed in Liberia between 1999 and 2002.

A businessman banned from travel by the United Nations because he provided military and financial support to Liberian war criminal Charles Taylor, gambled millions in Crown Casino high-roller rooms despite international sanctions against him.

Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is a convicted war criminal who was sentenced to 50 years in jail.© Rob Keeris: Reuters Former Liberian president Charles Taylor is a convicted war criminal who was sentenced to 50 years in jail. Joseph Wong Kiia Tai was placed on the UN sanctions list — which froze his assets and banned him from travelling — in 2004 for assisting Taylor, who was sentenced to 50 years for war atrocities during the Sierra Leone civil war.

The UN sanction listing states Mr Wong was an arms dealer in contravention of a UN resolution and that he "supported former president Taylor's regime in an effort to destabilise Sierra Leone and gain illicit access to diamonds."

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One of Africa's most notorious arms dealers , a man who has been banned from entering Britain and been described by the government as "odious" for his alleged role in illegally supplying weapons to rebel forces in Sierra Leone, has been arrested in Belgium.

Despite the blacklisting, Mr Wong was able to enter Australia and gamble in Crown's Melbourne and Perth casinos, records seen by the ABC showed.

During the time the sanctions were in place, Mr Wong visited Australia several times, losing more than $6 million at Crown's casinos.

The revelations will raise further questions about the calibre of gamblers at Crown's casinos and what checks it does on big-spending punters.

Crown Casino has been in the spotlight over money laundering allegations and criminal links to its lucrative junket operations.

Junket operators recruit cashed-up foreign punters to visit Crown, often arriving in private jets and they gamble in special private rooms at the casino.

Mr Wong is understood to have travelled as a junket guest.

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Former Permanent Representative of Liberia to the International Maritime Organisation; Former The Security Council considers that, despite significant progress having been made in Liberia , the an assets freeze against persons designated by the UN sanctions committee established to oversee

The sanctions against him were lifted in 2015.

Sanctions flouted

The United Nations sanctions were endorsed by the Australian Government.

The Department of Home Affairs has confirmed it was aware of the case and said "it thoroughly investigates instances of misuse of the visa system and takes action to mitigate against further occurrences, where appropriate".

A Crown spokesman said it took all of its obligations "very seriously and has no interest in being used by criminal elements".

Junket operators recruit rich foreigners to visit Crown gambling in special private rooms.© ABC News: Jane Cowan Junket operators recruit rich foreigners to visit Crown gambling in special private rooms. "In support of this, Crown works closely with Australia's law enforcement and regulatory agencies on a range of matters, and assists in providing information for ongoing and new investigations," the spokesman said.

"Crown is bound by a number of non-disclosure requirements including those imposed under legislation and by law enforcement agencies."

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their alleged links to former Liberian dictator Taylor, who was sentenced last year to 50 years' jail for war To get around the US laws, which mirrored United Nations sanctions , Bout and allegedly Bout was in 2000, when he tried to help the arms dealer set up a manufacturing business in the US.

The news came just days after the ABC revealed leaked CCTV footage showing hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash, carried casually in supermarket bags, being exchanged in private high-roller rooms for international junket operators.

Whistleblowers accused Crown of not properly reporting transactions over $10,000 to Australia's anti-money laundering authority, AUSTRAC, and warning of the high risk of criminal money laundering.

The whistleblowers also said the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) have not taken enough action against Crown.

The Victorian Government has defended the VCGLR but ordered a probe into allegations made in the Nine papers in July.

Victorian Gaming Minister Marlene Kairouz on Wednesday was unable to name one incident where the commission took action against Crown.

Last year it did fine the casino $300,000 for removing betting options on a handful of its poker machines.

Asked about people on UN blacklists gambling at Crown on Wednesday, Ms Kairouz did not directly answer.

"I've asked the commission to go and re-examine all the allegations that have been put forward,'' she said.

"If anyone has any further information that they can assist with these investigations, the re-examination of these allegations, they're more than welcome to do so."

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