The commissioner who leads the inquiry into Crown Resorts described the fact that the gambling company is not to learn from its past mistakes and address superiors in controversial situations.
The critical view that Patricia Bergin, the commissioner, shared earlier today has been taken as a bad omen for the Australian casino giant, as it happened with a New South Wales (NSW) gambling regulatory meeting just around the corner. At the meeting, the competent authority is to decide whether to stop the planned opening of Crown Resort’s Barangaroo casino until the inquiry has ruled on the gambling company’s suitability to hold a casino licence in Sydney. The opening is set to take place in December 2020.
In addition, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) also heard an appeal from Ben Brazil, who is an ex-Crown director and Macquarie Group director and en executive of the Macquarie Group, to not be characterised with the same faults as the other members of the Crown Resorts’ board. Mr Brazil has been claiming that he tried to stop the worst failures of the group.
Today’s inquiry also heard submissions from a counsel representing the billionaire investor of Crown Resorts – James Packer – who owns 36% of the casino operator through his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH).
December Opening of Crown’s Barangaroo Casino Could Be Postponed
At the hearing, the counsel assisting the inquiry has argued that it had been Mr Packer’s harmful influence that could be considered the main reason for the Australian gambling company to be unsuitable to hold the operating licence for its Barangaroo casino project. The latter has been estimated at AU$2.2 billion.
Noel Hutley, SC, explained there was no proof that Crown Resorts’ executives were reluctant to share “bad news” with the billionaire investor, who took the position of the group’s chairman from 2017 to 2015 and of a director from 2017 to 2018, because of what he called a “forceful personality”.
The failures to share information with the investor certainly included red flags for some danger faced by Crown staff members, which eventually ended up with 19 of them being taken to custody in 2016. Concerns shared by some major banks that criminal organisations were using Crown Resorts’ operations and bank accounts to launder money were also included in the incidents of the company’s executives not sharing information with Mr Packer.
According to Commissioner Bergin, it was unbelievable and inexplicable that the current boss of Crown Resorts, Mr Barton, failed to alert former CEO Rowen Craigie of the aforementioned banks’ decision to shut the gambling giant’s bank accounts over money laundering concerns at the time he occupied the position of Chief Finance Officer of the company. On the other hand, SC Hutley shared that the “strong personality” of Mr Packer could not be a plausible explanation of why mid-level executives had not shared crucial information with each other.