Gambling giant Crown Resorts is conducting due diligence of its junket partners in order to check for potential criminal links. The checks are starting with the marketing team that has been given the responsibility to attract high-roller customers to the company’s Australian casinos, creating what Crown Resorts’ compliance and legal officer admits could be a conflict of interest.
Earlier today, the Chief Legal Officer of the casino company testified in the inquiry held into Crown Resorts by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to find out how the gambling operator whether to collaborate with certain junket operators that help it bring wealthy Chinese gamblers to its gambling properties in Australia.
As Casino Guardian previously reported, the public inquiry started after some media reports that some of the junket operators Crown Resorts worked with had links to organised crime and money-laundering. As a result of the probe, the state’s gambling regulatory body is to decide whether the gambling operator should be allowed to keep the operating licence for its venue at Sydney’s Barangaroo.
At the time he got questioned by the local gambling watchdog, Mr Preston explained that there was a considerable risk of organised crime infiltrating junket operators. He further noted that new and existing junket operators were reviewed by the gambling company, with the process being managed by the operator’s credit control team that is part of the VIP international customer team of Crown Resorts.
Junkets’ Probity Reports Redirected to Three-Member Panel for Final Approval
The probity reports of the gambling operator’s credit team are redirected for final approval to a panel consisting of Mr Preston, Barry Felstead, who is the boss of Crown’s Australian resorts, and the non-executive director of the casino operator’s board, Michael Johnston.
When questioned during the probe whether the evaluation process during the probity checks of junket operators could be a conflict of interest, provided that the VIP team may be particularly interested in dealing with a certain operator because such a partnership could be extremely beneficial for Crown Resorts, Mr Preston acknowledged that “from an outsider’s point of view” there could be such a perception. He, however, explained that the credit team makes its decisions impartially.
Furthermore, the legal chief of the Australian gambling operator revealed that the accounting firm Deloitte had been hired to review the company’s probity controls and point out any possible weaknesses that Crown had in that area. As revealed by Mr Preston, the credit team also decided whether to escalate existing junkets to the aforementioned panel during annual reviews. The three-member approval panel, on the other hand, relied on the information provided by the credit team when making a decision.
As the regulatory inquiry heard, gambling regulatory bodies in the states of Victoria, Western Australia and New South Wales (NSW) no longer play part in approval of junket operators casino companies work with. Instead, Crown Resorts became the one in charge of ensuring the checks of the junket partners.