Murdered Vietnamese refugee, 36, laundered over S$1 billion at Australian casinos

A former Vietnamese refugee who was shot dead on a Sydney street corner had laundered up to A$1 billion (S$1.08 billion) at Australian casinos as he cleaned up cash for criminal syndicates, reports said.

Pete Tan Hoang, an orphan who arrived in Australia as a refugee but went on to become a citizen, was gunned down in his black Nissan in a Sydney suburb in September.

“We have certainly considered that he was involved in drug trafficking and moving money through casinos,” New South Wales police homicide squad commander Mick Willing told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, adding this could have led to his death. 

Hoang, 36, is thought to have been a key money launderer in Australia, receiving millions in cash from criminal syndicates that he then laundered through gambling.

The black Nissan Skyline he was driving immediately before his death. Photo: FACEBOOK /NSW POLICE FORCE

Although he was banned from some casinos, including The Star in Sydney, others gave Hoang preferential treatment as a high-roller, gifting him flights, luxury accommodation, alcohol and cash payments, the ABC and Fairfax reported late Thursday.

In 2012, a compliance manager from Melbourne’s Crown Casino told a court case that Hoang bought gambling chips worth Aus$75 million between 2000 and 2012.

This equalled a gambling turnover of at least A$225 million, the reports said.

The prosecutor at the time suggested the gambling turnover from this could possibly be as high as A$1 billion.

Social science professor from Deakin University Linda Hancock, who has researched casinos told ABC:

“What’s interesting about Mr. Hoang’s gambling patterns is that they were such big stakes.
“You know, he’s reported as having staked over $100,000 on a hand.”

Crown has said it had been assisting law enforcement authorities in relation to Hoang, who was facing charges at the time he was killed.

While the Australian Crime Commission said it did not comment on who it might be investigating, it did say on Friday that, based on conservative estimates,serious and organised crime cost Australia Aus$15 billion every year.

Money laundering

Recent estimates suggested the level of money laundered in and through Australia was at least A$10 billion a year and this was achieved in a variety of ways.

New South Wales Police organised crime squad commander Scott Cook said the problem was “right across our economy and right across our society”.

“Most of that is done through money laundering processes. So it’s a significant lifeblood of organised crime,” he told the ABC.

Cook said criminals saw casinos as places to both flaunt their wealth and places where they can potentially manipulate the processes to launder cash.

“Casinos deal in large quantities of cash. Organised crime has large quantities of cash that they want to launder. So it’s a perfect fit, in that sense,” he added.

Source: AFP