Australia NSW's Crown inquiry to report on probity

19:47  31 january  2021
19:47  31 january  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

Crown to learn Sydney casino's fate

  Crown to learn Sydney casino's fate The report coming out of an explosive inquiry into Crown Resorts' fitness to operate a casino on Sydney's harbour is just days away.Patricia Bergin SC, a retired NSW Supreme Court judge, presided over the extraordinary inquiry which aired allegations that Crown turned a blind eye to money laundering, did business with groups that had organised crime links and had a dysfunctional culture that allowed these problems to fester.

A highly anticipated report outlining findings on the fitness of Australian gaming giant Crown Resorts to run a casino in Sydney will be handed to authorities.

a sign on the side of a building: A report on the fitness of gaming giant Crown Resorts to run a casino in Sydney is to be handed down © Mick Tsikas/AAP PHOTOS A report on the fitness of gaming giant Crown Resorts to run a casino in Sydney is to be handed down

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority gave commissioner Patricia Bergin until Monday to hand over her findings and recommendations on Crown's suitability to hold a casino licence.

The regulator confirmed on Friday that Ms Bergin will submit her report on Monday.

But it will be a while longer before the public learns of the report's contents and the regulator's response.

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The Authority's board will consider the report after receiving it.

Though Authority chair Philip Crawford said on Friday that no release date for the report had been determined, it will be publicly released within the next two weeks.

The report's submission is the culmination of an extraordinary probe that has laid bare the governance problems of one of the country's most high-profile companies.

The inquiry saw the company admit it was more likely than not that money had been laundered through its bank accounts. Crown was accused by lawyers in the inquiry, and earlier in media reports, of turning a blind eye to money laundering.

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Evidence was also aired of the company's links with organised crime figures and a high-risk, profit-driven culture.

‘Unedifying performance': Three Crown directors including Andrew Demetriou facing pressure to resign

  ‘Unedifying performance': Three Crown directors including Andrew Demetriou facing pressure to resign At least three members of the Crown board are under pressure to resign, including the group's managing director Andrew Demetriou.Former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin handed down a landmark report into the casino company that put Crown's flagship Barangaroo project in Sydney at risk by finding the company was not suitable to hold a NSW casino licence.

The inquiry shone a spotlight on a figure who has long been subject to fascination, scrutiny and gossip - billionaire James Packer.

While giving evidence, Mr Packer revealed he had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, an illness that saw him step down from Crown's board twice.

The troubled heir owned up to "shameful" and "disgraceful" conduct, which he blamed on his poor mental health.

Counsel assisting the inquiry argued that Ms Bergin should find that neither Crown nor Mr Packer are suitable to be close associates of the casino.

If Ms Bergin does find Crown's problems mean it should not run the casino, she must make recommendations for what changes, if any, can render it suitable.

One suggestion already came from Mr Packer, who admitted that Ms Bergin might consider caps on shareholding and therefore force him to part with his shares in Crown. He owns 36.8 per cent of the company.

Another issue was the independence of the board, which includes a number of Packer family associates.

Crown appointed a new director, Nigel Morrison, to the board on Thursday. The company's media release described the appointment as "part of a process of Board renewal".

‘So much going wrong’: Damning inquiry into Crown Resorts offers lessons in corporate governance .
An inquiry into Crown Resorts has come to the damning conclusion that Crown is not fit to hold a licence for its new Sydney casino. What’s more, the review found that even though James Packer did not have a direct seat on the board, his influence as the major shareholder was “disastrous” for the company. The inquiry, which calls for reforms to casino regulations and an overhaul of the company’s board, comes after years of reports by media outlets alleging Crown Resorts had engaged in money-laundering, breached gambling laws and partnered with casino junket operators with links to organised crime groups.

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