Caesars Palace fined $9.5M for lax money laundering scrutiny

AP News
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Posted: Sep 08, 2015 12:54 PM

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Caesars Palace in Las Vegas is being fined $9.5 million by federal and state regulators for not taking steps to prevent money laundering in the casino.

The U.S Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network announced Tuesday that the agency had settled its investigation into the casino for $8 million. Nevada Gaming Control Board Chairman A.G. Burnett says the state agency plans to levy its own $1.5 million fine against the company in a separate settlement.

The investigations stems from actions the casino made as early as 2012.

The federal agency says Caesars Palace willfully and repeatedly violated the Bank Secrecy Act, including allowing high-rollers to gamble millions anonymously in private areas of the casino. The agency says the casino marketed the private gambling rooms in the United States and abroad, particularly to Asian gamblers, but didn't watch for possible suspicious activity in the cash flow that resulted, including large wire transfers.

While there's no indication that actual money laundering occurred, the Treasury Department said the lack of scrutiny "exposed the casino and the U.S. financial system to illicit activity."

A Caesars Entertainment Corp. spokeswoman says in a statement that the Las Vegas Strip casino has since improved its methods to prevent and detect money laundering and is committed to fully complying with the rules.

The settlements will need to be approved by a federal bankruptcy court in Chicago since the casino company's bankrupt operating unit would be responsible for paying the fines. They would be considered unsecured claims which are paid behind any priority liens. Caesars Entertainment Operating Co. filed for bankruptcy protection in January in hopes of shedding some $10 billion of its $18.4 billion in debt.

The $1.5 million state settlement would still need to be approved by the five-member Nevada Gaming Commission before being sent to the bankruptcy court for approval.

"Caesars has been very cooperative," Burnett said.