Queensland casino boss to lead The Star after executive chairman John O’Neill's exit

Queensland casino boss to lead The Star after executive chairman John O’Neill's exit

Rendering of The Star's Queen's Wharf development.

An executive who has been running The Star Entertainment Group's (ASX: SGR) Queensland casinos for two years will become acting CEO after the departure of outgoing executive chairman John O'Neill who is due to take the stand at an ongoing review this week.

Geoff Hogg is the current chief casino officer for the company's QLD operations comprising casinos and hotels on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, where the company is also building the $3.6 billion Queen's Wharf development. Hogg's remit was was recently expanded to NSW operations following the announced resignation of his former Sydney counterpart, Greg Hawkins. 

Also announced today, non-executive director Ben Heap will take on the role of interim chairman, temporarily replacing John O’Neill who announced he was stepping down from the board on Friday with a departure date to be agreed.

Both will commence in their new roles on 1 June 2022, subject to any regulatory approvals.

The Star acting CEO Geoff Hogg.

 

The news comes ahead of the resumption of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) review into The Star's suitability to hold a casino licence in Sydney, which has so far uncovered damning revelations of a culture of silence and cover-up among the company’s senior management team that could have exposed the casino group to illegal money-laundering activities over many years.

Former executive chairman John O’Neill is scheduled to give evidence to the review this week, as well as director Richard Sheppard who was recalled after taking the stand earlier this month.

Evidence at the ILGA review revealed that $900 million was filtered through The Star between 2013 and 2020 from Chinese high rollers hosted by Chinese junket operator Suncity Group. The VIP customers used China Union Pay debit and credit cards to make withdrawals of up to $22 million for gambling at a private gaming room, with employees from The Star facilitating the transactions despite knowing they contravened the card operator’s terms of use.

The new interim chairman faced the review earlier this month, at the time denying the company’s board misled shareholders in an ASX statement issued last year following media reports that the casino giant was enabling suspected money laundering and organised crime activities through its VIP operations.

The review has already forced the hands of a number of other executives at The Star, seeing former CFO Harry Theodore, former NSW chief casino officer Greg Hawkins and chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin resign.

According to SGR, remuneration arrangements for Hogg will be announced prior to him starting as Acting CEO.

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