Crown Resorts and its majority shareholder, billionaire James Packer, have suffered a humiliating reprimand at the hands of Patricia Bergin, SC’s special investigation into their casino business. They have only themselves to blame.
The damning final report of the 10-month investigation by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority found that Crown – through its Crown Sydney Gaming subsidiary – was not fit to license Sydney’s second casino in Barangaroo .
The investigation was initiated following reports from a Age/Sydney Morning Herald/60 minutes investigation, which raised allegations that the Crown “engaged in money laundering, broke gambling laws and joined forces with junket operators with links to drug traffickers , money launderers, human traffickers and organized criminal groups ”.
In her final report, Ms Bergin, a former New South Wales Supreme Court justice, called the Crown’s slow and reluctant response to the allegations “corporate arrogance” – some of which have been discussed internally there. six years ago.
She said it took 14 months after the stories were published before the Crown appointed an outside investigator to review the claims.
Perhaps more mind-bogglingly, it was only after 10 months of public hearings, which included “devastating” evidence on the use of its accounts for money laundering, that Crown decided to train directors in their obligations – with a one-hour basic online course. Ms Bergin called this “uneducating”.
Attention should now shift to Crown’s Casino in Melbourne. Already, the NSW investigation has had results with the Victorian government speeding up its next major review of Crown Resorts’ Melbourne license by two years. He has yet to appoint a commissioner to lead the review, which he announced in December. He hopes the regulator’s investigation will be completed this year.
The investigation cannot come soon enough and the delay by state regulators has been dismal. On Tuesday, the Victorian government made no comment on the findings of the NSW inquiry. He cannot remain silent indefinitely.
The Bergin report was scathing. He made unfavorable findings against the current managers – general manager Ken Barton, former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou and Michael Johnston, a longtime Packer lieutenant. Commissioner Bergin said NSW regulators should have very serious doubts that Crown could one day be considered a “fit person” to run a casino while they remain on the board of administration.