Michael Ahearne, the CEO of SkyCity Entertainment, will quit in March as the Adelaide casino owner looks at a multimillion-dollar penalty and the loss of its New Zealand license. Ahearne, who was named CEO in November 2020, informed the ASX-listed company’s board that he will step down and return to Europe with his family early next year.
Julian Cook, chairman of SkyCity, said Ahearne had led the business through a “complex and demanding period.” Cook said: “Michael has worked hard to set a strong platform for the business going forward and has been tireless in seeking to do the right thing for SkyCity.”
According to AFR, a search for Ahearne’s replacement is currently underway. Ahearne’s retirement comes at a challenging time for the casino, which is currently facing intensive regulatory investigation and legal action.
Earlier in September, SkyCity Entertainment set aside a substantial sum of AU$45 million (USD 29M) to potentially cover a civil penalty resulting from an anti-money laundering case being heard in the Federal Court. These developments have sparked attention within the gambling and regulatory sectors.
The legal issue stems from action taken by the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC), which brought the case against SkyCity in December. AUSTRAC alleged systematic non-compliance with anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.
The corporation is already under investigation in South Australia over whether it is fit to hold a license in Adelaide, but it now faces the prospect of temporarily losing the license that permits it to operate its New Zealand casinos in Auckland, Hamilton, and Queenstown.