Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR) CEO and managing director Matt Bekier will resign in response to the findings of an ongoing inquiry that has revealed allegations of misconduct at the company, including around $900 million in gambling transactions from high rollers that were registered as hotel expenses.
The company reports the decision follows issues raised in the public hearings in connection with the review of The Star Sydney being undertaken by Adam Bell SC.
"While the Review remains ongoing, Mr Bekier informed the Board that as managing director and CEO he is accountable for the effectiveness and adequacy of the company’s processes, policies, people and culture. Mr Bekier said the right thing to do was for him to take responsibility," the company stated in an ASX release.
"Mr Bekier will step down from the Board immediately, and will work with the Board to transition his executive responsibilities in an orderly manner. Mr Bekier’s final departure date is yet to be determined."
The independent review in NSW is scheduled to run until 8 April, and to date has also heard allegations of a hostile response from Bekier in an audit committee meeting to a 2018 KPMG report detailing failings in Star's anti-money laundering program, which the outgoing CEO allegedly claimed was "wrong".
Former chief risk officer Paul McWilliams told a hearing last week the issue of junkets had triggered an "allergic reaction" at the committee meeting, and that chairman John O'Neill had found the tone of the KPMG report to be "offensive".
"I don't think he would hold himself out as being an AML expert. That's not a criticism. It was just the language was - is quite direct in this report and is suggestive of 30 obvious material deficiencies - fundamental deficiencies, to use your word - in aspects of the program, and I think he took exception to that style of language," McWilliams told Barrister Caspar Conde, who is assisting Adam Bell SC.
The hearing also heard Star entered into an agreement for an exclusive gaming salon called Salon 95 for a junket from Suncity, which potentially had alleged criminal links and allegedly ran an illegal payment cage. There were also claims that a secret gaming room was set up, under a different name, even after Bekier announced the termination of the Suncity relationship in 2019.
SGR shares fell 1.55 per cent to $3.18 in early trading, and are down almost 14 per cent since 9 February 2022.
The news comes some 13 months after Crown Resorts' (ASX: CWN) former CEO Ken Barton stepped down in response to the NSW-led Bergin Report that determined the company was unsuitable to hold a casino licence in the state.
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