Amid The Star Sydney investigation

The Star's executive chairman John O'Neill resigns from board ahead of inquiry presentation

John O'Neill, The Star's outgoing executive chairman.
Reading time 1:29 min

The Star Entertainment Group’s executive chairman John O’Neill announced Friday his resignation. The news comes two days before a scheduled date for him to give evidence as part of a public inquiry into the Australian company’s Sydney casino license, thus stepping down from the board “with a departure date to be agreed." 

The decision was notified through an ASX statement, explaining that O’Neill had informed fellow directors earlier that day of his decision, and that he “will transition his chair and executive responsibilities in an orderly fashion."

The former Australian Rugby Union and Football Federation Australia boss had been Star’s chairman since 2012 and took on the executive chairman role in April. His resignation is not the first to occur within the company amid the ongoing inquiry.

Since The Star saw itself involved in an investigation into its suitability to hold a casino license in March, executives such as former chief executive Matt Bekier, chief financial officer Harry Theodore and others have stepped down from their roles.

Former CEO Matt Bekier.

At least 10 Star directors and executives who were at the company at the height of its misconduct have resigned or committed to do so following the inquiry, such as Director Gerard Bradley and Sally Pitkin, who will leave the board “in the coming months." 

The NSW inquiry, helmed by Adam Bell, SC, has heard The Star set up a secret gambling room for criminal gang-linked junket operator Suncity; hid its illegal cash cage from NSW casino regulator; misled the big banks, and might have failed to pay taxes. 

It has also examined how the Star ignored the criminal links and likely money laundering activities of its major junket high-roller tour partners and other customers, and its abuse of Chinese bank cards to facilitate $900 million of banned gambling transactions, which then lied to the National Australia Bank about.

O’Neill is due to appear before the inquiry on Monday after his evidence was delayed from starting this week. He is expected to be questioned on his knowledge of Star’s controversial China UnionPay scheme, its dealings with Suncity and his reaction to KPMG telling Star in 2018 that it may not be complying with anti-money laundering laws, reports Australian Financial Review.

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