Poker machines laundering money for Jihad?
The Daily Telegraph reported just how simple laundering cash is by feeding $2100 into a poker machine on Thursday, pushing the collect button and exchanging the money for a legitimate cheque without even playing the machine.
Department of Gaming and Racing sources revealed to the paper that the $15 billion in annual poker machine turnover is being inflated by tens of millions of dollars as a result.
The planned crackdown on cash transactions came as Federal Treasurer Peter Costello stepped up the pressure on Australian Muslim leaders to rein in extremists in their community.
"This is where we really need the Islamic leadership of this country to stand up and contend unequivocally that terrorism, no matter who it is perpetrated by ... is never justified," he said.
An al-Qaeda tape released yesterday encouraged Westerners to embrace radical Islam.
Director of the Justice Department’s laundering monitoring agency Austrac, Neil Jensen said the agency was looking at the issue of laundering money to fund terrorism.
"It is in their interests (pub and club owners) not to be used in the process of laundering or terrorist finance," Mr Jensen said. "They don’t want to be caught up with it."
When asked if he would be surprised if millions of dollars a week were being laundered through machines for a range of criminal activities, Mr Jensen said he was unable to say.
"It is fair to say the potential is there," he said.
A spokesman for the Australian Hotels Association said: "The AHA has worked with the Commonwealth Government and Austrac on new legislation ... it is acceptable to the industry.
"We are aware it is an issue.
"And we are very aware of the obligation on money laundering to the community ... hoteliers are law-abiding citizens."
The spokesman said publicans had an obligation to report suspicious activities such as feeding money straight into a machine and collecting it as a win.
Mr Scully said: "This is a very serious offence involving the laundering of the proceeds of crime. We need to root out this evil."