The NSW Crime Commission has launched an investigation into claims that Liquor and Gaming withheld documents relevant to a high-profile probe into money laundering in the state’s pubs and clubs.
In an escalation of claims made by Sydney independent MP Alex Greenwich that the NSW Crime Commission may not have been given all information relating to money laundering, Commissioner Michael Barnes on Friday ordered his staff to review the allegations.
The commission’s Islington Report, published in October, found billions of dollars of dirty money was gambled in poker machines in pubs and clubs across the state, but that money laundering undertaken to make proceeds of crime appear legitimate was less widespread.
Barnes said the “validity of that conclusion is questionable” if evidence emerged that Liquor and Gaming failed to provide all relevant documents to the NSW Crime Commission.
“For obvious reasons, it is essential that the commission can be confident that the evidence base underpinning its reports are sound and comprehensive,” Barnes said.
“We will take whatever steps that are necessary to ensure the integrity of our investigation in this matter has not been compromised. ”
Greenwich also told parliament on Thursday that he had been provided with information suggesting clubs may have been tipped off to compliance checks ahead of time.
The MP moved a parliamentary order to force Liquor and Gaming to release all surveillance data and compliance checks, which was supported by the government and the opposition.
“I have been informed that the NSW Crime Commission inquiry into money laundering via electronic gaming machines may not detail the full extent of money laundering in clubs, and that NSW Liquor and Gaming holds significant information and data based on analysis of centralised monitoring system or CMS data and associated investigations,” Greenwich told parliament.
Barnes said it was also important to be “respectful of processes underway in parliament, and we need to ensure that we do not cut across those”.
“I have today discussed the matter with Mr Greenwich to be sure that doesn’t happen.”
A spokesman for Liquor and Gaming NSW said the agency worked closely with the crime commission throughout the 10-month inquiry.
“Our investigative staff performed vital supporting work such as data analysis, evidence gathering and intelligence activities. All relevant information collected as part of this work was provided to the inquiry, or referred to other agencies such as AUSTRAC,” the spokesman said.
The Project Islington report recommended a cashless gaming card for all venues across the state to stop criminals using poker machines to wash dirty money.
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