Liquor and Gaming Data Collection

Liquor and Gaming Data Collection

(Production of Documents, 1 August 2023, Legislative Assembly, NSW Parliament)

By leave: I table two items of correspondence from the New South Wales Crime Commissioner relating to the Legislative Assembly's order for papers addressed to the member for Sydney, dated 31 July 2023, and to the Director Legal, Information Unit, Department of Enterprise Investment and Trade, dated 28 July 2023.

I move:

That the resolution of the House of 25 May 2023 for the order for papers relating to investigations into money laundering in clubs and pubs, subsequently amended on 21 June 2023, be further amended by:

(1) Omitting paragraph 1 (h) and inserting instead:

(h) any documents relating to gaming machine compliance checks; and

(i) any documents relating to the New South Wales Crime Commission inquiry into money laundering via electronic gaming machines.

(2) Inserting the following new paragraphs after paragraph (1):

(2) That documents referred to in sub-paragraphs (1) (a), (1) (b), (1) (c), (1) (e) and (1) (i) are to be provided only if:

(a) the documents, or the information contained in the documents, have not prior to 25 May 2023 already been, in the opinion of the New South Wales Crime Commissioner, reviewed or considered by the New South Wales Crime Commissioner; and

(b) the documents are comprised exclusively of raw data outputs from the centralised monitoring system, regardless of whether or not they have been reviewed or considered by the New South Wales Crime Commissioner.

(3) Documents produced in accordance with paragraph (2) are to be produced in redacted form if, in the opinion of the New South Wales Crime Commissioner or their delegate, production of the document in unredacted form would be prejudicial to the exercise of the Crime Commission's investigative function or to the conduct of any criminal proceedings that may arise out of investigations undertaken by the New South Wales Crime Commission.

(4) Omitting paragraph (5), which restricts inspection of the returned documents to members only. I seek to amend the motion passed by the House that calls for certain papers relating to money laundering and associated enforcement and compliance in electronic gaming machines. The amended motions follow discussions with the NSW Crime Commission, which late last year released a damming report estimating that billions of dollars of proceeds of crime is being laundered through washing and spending on poker machines in pubs and clubs every year.

The initial motion was moved after I was provided with information that there was greater evidence of money laundering of the washing or cleaning kind in pubs and clubs than was reflected in the Crime Commission's report. That original motion was amended to ensure the NSW Crime Commission could review all of that evidence before documents were produced to Parliament. The commission has now assessed those documents comprising 8,497 that the Department of Enterprise, Investment and Trade has stated were within the scope of the motion, and it did sampled approximately 460,000 that were held by Liquor and Gaming NSW that fell within the time frame but were not considered within the motion's scope.

The NSW Crime Commission found 125 documents that were not provided to the commission as part of the Project Islington investigation that should have been. I understand that, since providing these documents, Liquor and Gaming has now claimed that 38 were not within scope. However, the Crime Commissioner has disputed that claim in a letter, which I have tabled, and all parties agree that those documents will now be released. It is deeply concerning that Liquor and Gaming did not provide the Crime Commissioner with key documents during Project Islington and then sought to limit those same documents from this call for papers. The documents that were not considered as part of Project Islington investigations are now the focus of the amended call for papers. These papers, which did not contribute to investigations or findings and were not included in the final report, should now be publicly available. The documents in question reflect suspicions that money laundering of the cleaning kind is occurring in pubs and clubs to a greater extent than is reflected in the final Crime Commission report. I remind the House that Project Islington found both cleaning and spending of money, but concluded that spending the proceeds of crime in pubs and clubs was more widespread.

The concerns raised reflect data from the Central Monitoring System, or CMS, some of which, I understand, will indicate money going in and then going out of machines without being played. But the Crime Commissioner has stressed that this data is not reliable enough for identifying money laundering alone. Other explanations can be made for the figures and, therefore, conclusions can only be made following further detailed analysis and investigation, such as assessing CCTV footage and questioning users identified as suspicious. The Crime Commissioner has written to me outlining the shortcomings of the CMS data and I have tabled that letter.

What is clear from the items in this call for paper and following my conversations with the NSW Crime Commissioner is that there is a transaction data void when it comes to detecting the different types of money laundering that occur in clubs and pubs. There is no mandatory transaction tracking system that can identify money laundering. The Crime Commissioner again makes it clear in his correspondence to me that the best way to address this is through cashless gaming. While the amended call for papers will focus on data and documents that have not been seen by the NSW Crime Commission during Project Islington and the raw data that needs further analysis to draw indisputable findings about money laundering, the call for papers will still include matters around complaints, compliance and enforcement of electronic gaming machines in pubs and clubs to ensure the papers capture a wider picture of the situation.

The amendment also includes requirements for redacting documents to protect informants, criminal investigations and proceedings. This means the documents no longer need to be limited to just members of Parliament and therefore the motion will enable them to be made public this Friday. Money laundering is a serious matter, and it should be a priority for the expert panel to make urgent recommendations on how to investigate and combat the proceeds of crime being put into the 90,000 poker machines across the State. I hope that a great deal of information within the call for papers is able to help us achieve that.

Minister for Local Government: The Government agrees with the motion moved by the member for Sydney. The member for Sydney can correct me if I am wrong, but in fairness to Liquor and Gaming NSW, from the correspondence that the member for Sydney has tabled it seems the 125 items of correspondence that should have been produced to the Crime Commission were in fact marked to be produced but for some reason they were not. In fairness to Liquor and Gaming, it had identified documents that should have been produced that for some reason have not been produced. They will be, no doubt, the focus of the call for papers and the focus of either further investigation or, alternatively, the inference, either direct or by implication, that can be drawn from those documents when they are produced.

I have not seen any of the material other than the correspondence that has been tabled. As the member for Sydney indicated, the data that has been available to the Crime Commission does not allow the commission, which has a far lesser test than a court, to draw inferences in respect of widespread money laundering. Whilst I accept that further investigation is required, when the matter was initially brought to the House a number of clubs were identified that may well have been impacted by genuine assertions made to the member for Sydney whereby a number of those clubs were named. I think it is clear at this point in time that the data does not indicate what the member for Sydney feared it did indicate. In reply the member for Sydney can correct me if I am wrong. It is now far too early for adverse inferences to be drawn against those specific named clubs. We will await the examination of the documents. I suspect though that those documents may well indicate some future public policy concerns that this House may well be concerned about, but we will wait for those documents to be produced.

Shadow Minister: I indicate that the Opposition will support the motion. I also make a few observations. The first is that from the correspondence the member for Sydney has just tendered, it is particularly concerning that 125 relevant documents were not supplied to the NSW Crime Commission for the purposes of its inquiry. I do not say whether it was inadvertent or deliberate. The member for Sydney is to be commended for having undertaken this process, which has at least brought to the attention of Parliament, and ultimately for the benefit of the Crime Commission, the 125 documents in question.

This process is a good example of the importance and potential use of calls for papers in the future. This process has been beneficial in terms of public interest. It indicates where there may well be other opportunities in the future to use this process in the public interest. The Opposition will be supportive of reasonable uses of this process. I must say that the Opposition took to the general election a far more robust policy for cashless gaming than the Government did. We continue to see the importance of cashless gambling not only for harm minimisation but also for money laundering. If we have advanced that policy in some way by supporting the member for Sydney in this process, I think this is a good outcome. I thank the member for Sydney. We support his motion.

Alex Greenwich: In reply: I thank the Government and the Opposition for supporting the variation in the call for papers. In varying the papers, I note that I am saving elements of the public service some 750 hours in redacting material. It is important to make a call for papers that is in the public interest but also ensuring it is done in a way that does not waste the time of public servants. We are seeking to do that by limiting the number of documents being produced. The Leader of the House is correct in his assertion that the CMS data does not indicate widespread money laundering through organised crime in clubs and pubs.

The crime commissioner made clear to me that CMS data may indicate suspicious activity, but because it is not linked to an actual transaction, bank account or person there is a void of information that would otherwise identify, investigate or mitigate money laundering that is occurring in clubs or pubs at the moment. I know the Government is concerned about that and I appreciate it establishing the expert panel to look into those matters. I hope it is treated with urgency. I thank the Opposition and all members of the House for their continued support. This will be the last time this call for papers will be amended because the relevant documents will be made public on Friday.

The Deputy Speaker: The question is that the motion of the member for Sydney be agreed to.

Motion agreed to.

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