Caesars Entertainment gets $9.5m fine for AML blind spot

Caesar Entertainment has been fined $9.5 million for deficient anti-money laundering controls at its Caesars Palace VIP rooms, which cater mainly to Chinese high-rollers.

The U.S. federal Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN) said Caesars agreed to pay an $8 million civil money penalty for its “willful and repeated violations” of the Bank Secrecy Act (BSA). In addition, the casino agreed to conduct periodic external audits and independent testing of its anti-money laundering compliance program, report to FinCEN on mandated improvements, adopt a rigorous training regime, and engage in a “look-back” for suspicious transactions.

FinCEN said the casino allowed a blind spot to exist in private gaming salons, where high rollers were able to gamble millions of dollars in a single visit and which allowed patrons to gamble anonymously.

“Despite the elevated money laundering risks present in these salons, Caesars failed to impose appropriate AML scrutiny, which allowed some of the most lucrative and riskiest financial transactions to go unreported. Caesars also marketed these salons through branch offices in the U.S. and abroad, particularly in Asia, but failed to adequately monitor transactions, such as large wire transfers, conducted through these offices for suspicious activity,” a statement said.  

Caesars petitioned for bankruptcy in January 2015. That bankruptcy remains pending, and this consent agreement must be approved by the bankruptcy court.

In conjunction with the federal enforcement action, Nevada regulators said Tuesday that the casino operator also agreed to pay an additional $1.5 million civil penalty for violating state laws.