Caesars Entertainment Corp. has agreed to pay an $8 million civil penalty for having “severely deficient” anti-money-laundering controls in its Caesars Palace casino VIP rooms, which mainly cater to Chinese high-rollers. Caesars admitted to federal authorities that it had openly allowed wealthy patrons to gamble anonymously within private rooms in its flagship casino in Las Vegas, the U.S. government said in a written statement Tuesday.
The casino company was also lax about properly monitoring transactions at international marketing offices that recruited the players, including in Hong Kong, according to the settlement with the U.S. Treasury’s Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, or FinCEN. Caesars' largest unit filed for bankruptcy in January, and the settlement must be approved by bankruptcy court. The IRS is also investigating the casino giant's anti-money-laundering operations.
“Caesars allowed a blind spot to exist in its compliance program — private gaming salons — enabling some of the most lucrative, and riskiest, financial transactions to avoid the scrutiny of Caesars’ compliance program,” FinCEN said in a settlement document.
During the period reviewed by the IRS in 2012, Caesars failed to file more than 100 reports on a variety of irregular activities. In one instance, a foreign customer’s $50,000 cash deposit in Caesars’ Hong Kong bank account wasn’t flagged as suspicious, as is required by U.S. law, according to the federal investigation.
WSJ/US Business: U.S. Fines Caesars $8 Million Over Money-Laundering Controls: Bankrupt casino company Caesars... http://t.co/grvk0atS6H
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"Caesars knew its customers well enough to entice them to cross the world to gamble and to cater to their every need," FinCen Director Jennifer Shasky Calvery said in a statement. "But, when it came to watching out for illicit activity, it allowed a blind spot in its compliance program. Every business wants to impress its customers, but that cannot come at the risk of introducing illicit money into the U.S. financial system."
The Tinian Dynasty Hotel & Casino on the Northern Mariana Islands, a U.S. commonwealth in the Pacific Ocean, and the Trump Taj Mahal Casino Resort in Atlantic City, New Jersey, were also fined this year by the federal government. “We definitely feel a special obligation” to monitor casinos, Calvery told the Wall Street Journal.
Analysts have questioned whether Caesars' stocks would be hurt by the scandal. On Tuesday morning, Caesars Entertainment (CZR) was up 1.5 percent on the Nasdaq to $9.45 a share.