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Author Topic: Drug Dealers Launder Money Through Tabcorp  (Read 6707 times)

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Drug Dealers Launder Money Through Tabcorp
« on: August 12, 2015, 08:30:12 AM »
(Ed. Tabcorp sacked me.)

Underworld figures and drug traffickers are exploiting Tabcorp betting accounts to launder the proceeds of crime and avoid detection by law enforcement agencies.

Tabcorp accounts are also being used to conceal protection payments made to violent inmates running extortion rackets within the prison system.

The revelations come as the ASX-listed company is facing a landmark Federal Court action by government financial watchdog Austrac over allegations it has routinely flouted anti-money laundering regulations by failing to report suspicious transactions.

lustration: Matt Golding
A Sun-Herald investigation has found major security flaws with Tabcorp's betting system that enables customers to open anonymous accounts that can be used by criminals to store funds and transfer money around the country.

In a test of the integrity of the Tabcorp system, The Sun-Herald opened two "fake" betting accounts using only basic personal information found on social media websites.

Tabcorp required no independent identity verification and money could be deposited and withdrawn from the accounts immediately, effectively circumventing Australia's anti-money laundering regulations.

Gambling and underworld sources say the weakness of the Tabcorp system means the company's online accounts and 2800 retail outlets are routinely used like a de facto banking network to hide cash from law enforcement authorities and the tax office.

"You can deposit $5000 in one venue and someone else can withdraw it anywhere there is a TAB, as long as you have the account number and PIN code," a source said. "It works just like a bank but the accounts aren't traceable to you so the system is very easy to manipulate."

It has also become common for criminal figures to open accounts in the names of family members and associates or "buy" them from people desperate for money.

The Sun Herald understands the same kind of weak ID verification systems are used throughout the gambling industry.

Law enforcement sources say betting accounts have become an "easy" way for criminals to launder the proceeds of crime.

"The hiding of unlawfully obtained cash amongst legitimately obtained cash is a standard money-laundering practice," said Detective Superintendent Scott Cook, commander of the NSW Police's Organised Crime Squad.

"Betting accounts are just one of the many means available to criminal syndicates to conceal the source of cash."

Victoria Police has described the process as "dirty money goes in and slightly cleaner money comes out".

A prison "money exchange"

The Sun-Herald can also reveal that prison inmates have also been establishing Tabcorp betting accounts to facilitate payments for drug dealing and extortion rackets run from inside Victoria's maximum security prison system.

Guards have been seizing lists of betting account numbers, amounts owed and paid, and contact details for accomplices outside prison when searching the cells of the ringleaders, prison sources say.

Family members of victims said they have been forced to make regular cash deposits into TAB accounts to prevent their relatives being bashed or raped in what has been described as a "common practice" by prison standover men.

"There's lots of bullying the inmates into getting their families to put money into TAB accounts so in turn they can get drugs bought and brought into the prison through visitors," a source said.

"Inmates find out information about other inmates families – where they live, where their kids go to school, etc and threaten that they will be visited on the outside if demands aren't met with payments to the TAB accounts."

In 2010, a TAB account registered to an associate of Matthew Johnson, leader of ultra-violent prison gang Prisoners of War, was discovered in the cell of one of Australia's most notorious criminals in the wake of Johnson's murder of drug kingpin Carl Williams.

It is understood Tabcorp has not been asked by police to provide any information in relation to the Carl Williams murder.

Alleged proceeds of crime.
Alleged proceeds of crime. Photo: Supplied
Tabcorp accused of inaction

A spokesman for Tabcorp said it "takes attempts to utilise our services for improper purposes very seriously" and the company works "collaboratively" with law enforcement agencies and regulators.

"We make adjustments to our systems, controls and monitoring in response to emerging risks and in particular, we continue to refine our customer ID verification processes," he said.

"Anyone who has any information about illegal activities which may have taken place using a TAB account is urged to inform the police."

But money-laundering experts say gambling and financial organisations often undertake only minimum identification procedures when customers open new accounts.

"It is well known that the gambling sector is a high-risk industry for money laundering and terrorist financing," said Chris Douglas, financial crime consultant with Malkara Consulting.

"Organised crime can easily defeat a customer onboarding program where a reporting entity only collects the minimum identification."

Tabcorp is also facing up to $17 million in fines after Commonwealth financial watchdog Austrac launched a civil action last month alleging the gambling giant has committed widespread violations of anti-money-laundering laws. They include claims there has been a systemic failure to report suspicious transactions and appropriately confirm identities.
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