A former senior judge has commented on the recent allegations of connections with crime organisations which have been recently faced by Crown Resorts, saying that the integrity watchdog which oversees the home affairs department is not the right one to deal with the case. This opinion is putting the government’s model for a federal anti-corruption body under question.
Recently, the Federal Government of Australia has been facing pressure to unveil stricter regulation after the beginning of the week saw the Senate pass the Greens’ bill seeking to establish a body that would be given much greater powers.
Under the proposed piece of legislation, the new anti-corruption watchdog would feature two arms – the first one monitoring the public sector and the other one overseeing law enforcement. It would be the law enforcement arms which would be granted mostly the same jurisdiction and powers which are currently held by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI). The latter is currently responsible for investigating corruption in the home affairs department and the Australian federal police.
The proposal of the Greens would expand its area of activity to cover the Australian Competition and Consumer Commission, the tax office, and the corporate and banking regulatory bodies.
However, according to the former judge at the Victoria court of appeal Stephen Charles, the jurisdiction and powers given to ACLEI are not sufficient so that the Commission is able to investigate corruption properly.
No Public Inquiries Carried Out So Far, Despite Government’s Calls
A few weeks ago, Victorian lawmakers were urged by the crossbench Member of Parliament Fiona Patten to commission a parliamentary inquiry into the operations of Crown Casino. The call came after the Australian gambling behemoth faced allegations of connections with some criminal organisations and money laundering.
Mid-August saw Ms Patten insist for the Victorian upper house to open a debate on the allegations which have been published by several local media hubs so that the competent authorities address them immediately. She further called for a thorough review of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation’s role, because the shared a belief that the gaming regulator is not doing the job it is supposed to.
The allegations faced by the largest casino company in Australia include money laundering, drug dealing and links to organised crime. Considering the fact that Crown Resorts is currently Victoria’s largest single-site employer, such rumours could not be addressed properly.
Now, in the light of the Crown Casino money laundering case, former judge Stephen Charles has found ACLEI’s powers and jurisdictions simply insufficient to deal with some issues in the sector. As the Guardian reported, according to him, there are many ways in which the Commission is ineffective to fully investigate the alleged corruption.
ACLEI is empowered to hold public inquiries but, despite the Government has addressed the Commission regarding the aforementioned allegations, none have been carried out by it so far, according to a report.