The operators of the Sydney Opera House are facing legal action over allegations they operated an illegal online booking service.
Key points:Operators claim the service was illegal and breached anti-money laundering lawsOperators also say they were told they had to shut down after a ‘false and misleading’ statementThe Sydney Opera’s management has been ordered to hand over any information related to the booking serviceIt was set up to allow visitors to purchase tickets on-the-spot, without a booking agent, with the option to book the tickets up front.
But some customers complained that the service could take up to two weeks to book tickets.
Operators say they weren’t required to notify the owners that the booking was illegal.
The operator of the booking company, Melbourne Opera Holdings, told the ABC that it was not operating an illegal service and had been advised by the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission (ACCC) to stop it.
“The operator has advised the ACCC that it does not operate an illegal booking service and is not currently undertaking any of the conduct outlined in the complaint,” the company said in a statement.
The ABC contacted Melbourne Opera but was unable to contact any of its members, who are currently facing the same charges.
The company said it was a voluntary arrangement with the operator, which has a long history of operating legal businesses.
“We have never been contacted by the ACCCC regarding any complaint,” it said.
“This is an ongoing investigation, which is continuing and it is our intention to respond to the ACCc as soon as we can.”‘
I’m not a crook’The ACCC alleges that the operators of Melbourne Opera and the booking website did not notify their owners that booking services were illegal.
It says the operators had no way of knowing that they were violating the Australian Anti-Money Laundering Act (AML), which prohibits “fraudulent conduct designed to conceal a financial transaction” or “false and deceptive conduct” in the sale of goods or services.
The ACCc is seeking information from Melbourne Opera about whether the company knew or should have known about the operation of the service and whether any of it was authorised.
“A failure to comply with this Act constitutes an offence under the relevant legislation,” it alleges.
It also alleges that Melbourne Opera failed to comply by failing to properly notify the operators.
“Operators have a duty to ensure that the services they offer comply with the AML Act,” it says.
“If Melbourne Opera has failed to do so, it is a breach of the Act.”
The ACCCC also alleges the operators did not comply with a mandatory reporting requirement for the online booking company.
“While Melbourne Opera may have been aware of the operator’s conduct, Melbourne Operators failed to take reasonable steps to inform the operators that they had breached the AMLA,” it claims.
“Instead, Melbourne operators failed to notify Melbourne Operations that they engaged in unlawful conduct.”
A Melbourne Opera spokesman said: “We have a very long history and have never had any complaints about the service.
Our business is a legal business.””
We take these matters very seriously and have been fully cooperative with the ACCCs inquiry.”
Melbourne Opera has not responded to the ABC’s request for comment.
The Sydney Metropolitan Opera said it had not been contacted about the allegations.”SMC has been advised of the ACC’s investigation and is cooperating fully with the investigation,” it told the broadcaster.
“As always, the Metropolitan Opera is committed to ensuring that the Metropolitan is safe and secure for its customers, and we have an extensive security program in place to ensure we can operate with high standards.”
The operators of other theatres, including the Royal Melbourne and Adelaide Opera House, have also told the BBC that they are complying with the Australian Consumer Law.
“It is the responsibility of every person operating a ticketed event, whether they are a ticketing agent or not, to check the safety and security of their event.
We take all complaints seriously and we work closely with our ticketing agents and ticketing operators to ensure our events operate safely,” the Melbourne Opera said in an emailed statement.”
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The Metropolitan Opera and its agents have cooperated fully with any relevant police inquiries and we are fully confident that the Met and its Ticketing Operations have adhered to all relevant laws.”
Topics:business-economics-and-finance,law-crime-and_justice,online-advertising,consumer-protection,sydney-3000,nsw,vic,aurora-3450,vicPrime Minister,justice-and,administration,federal—state-issues,sussex-2350,melbourne-3000More stories from Victoria