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

10:38  09 february  2021
10:38  09 february  2021 Source:   smh.com.au

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Crown Resorts director Andrew Demetriou raised concerns two years ago that the scandal-stricken casino group was too focused on complying with gambling regulations at the expense of growing the business. "We’ re at risk of being like the Australian cricket team – timid, reactionary, not bold or Andrew Demetriou appearing in front of the ILGA inquiry on Monday. Mr Demetriou , who told the inquiry he saw his job as an independent director to represent the ASX-listed company's minority shareholders, sent Mr Packer the email to share "feedback" and "observations" from a meeting of

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Three members of Crown Resorts' board, including former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou, are under pressure to resign after a public inquiry made scathing findings about their reliability and suggested the company could not reform itself while they remained directors.

Andrew Demetriou wearing a suit and tie: Andrew Demetriou Crown Casino probe lead image 13/10/20 © Provided by Sydney Morning Herald Andrew Demetriou Crown Casino probe lead image 13/10/20

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 18 month inquiry found serious failings in Crown's governance, structure and its oversight of money laundering activities at its casinos in Melbourne and Perth.

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The report found that it was unlikely for Crown to be able to reform itself to become a suitable licence holder while Mr Demetriou, chief executive Ken Barton and James Packer lieutenant Michael Johnston remained on the board.

Andrew Demetriou and Michael Johnston. © AAP Andrew Demetriou and Michael Johnston.

Mr Demetriou shocked the inquiry last year when he was caught having a folder of company documents, emails and prompts, including handwritten definitions of good corporate culture, with him in the witness box while giving evidence. Mr Demetriou denied relying on the notes for his evidence.

The report was scathing about Mr Demetriou's evidence describing it as "a quite bizarre performance"

"This was a most unedifying performance by Mr Demetriou," Justice Bergin says.

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"Unfortunately it reflects very badly on his judgment first of all to take notes into the witness box (albeit in a virtual setting); then to read from them; but more importantly to deny that he was reading from them.

"It is difficult to understand what might reasonably be made of this quite bizarre performance. Sadly the balance of Mr Demetriou's evidence is affected by it. The Authority (ILGA) would be justified in lacking confidence in placing reliance upon Mr Demetriou in the future." The report did not make any findings in regards to Mr Demetriou's role at collapsed vocational education provider Acquire Learning.

Mr Demetriou declined to comment when contacted by The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald following the release of the report

Mr Barton, Crown's chief executive, was also strongly criticised in the report.

"Mr Barton has demonstrated that he is no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee or a close associate of the licensee. His problems will not be cured by the appointment of people expert in the field who report to him."

Victorian Government under pressure over Crown Casino after NSW inquiry

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The report found Mr Johnson exacerbated the corporate governance failures at Crown due to his dual loyalties to James Packer's private company Consolidated Press Holdings and Crown. She also described Mr Johnston's performance in the witness box as "pugnacious".

Commissioner Bergin also suggested it might be time for long time Crown director, famed adman Harold Mitchell to also step off the board, after he was found by the Federal Court following an investigation by the coporate watchdog to have breached his director duties while a director of Tennis Australia.

She also noted that the Federal Court found Mr Mitchell was always intending to act in the best interests of Tennis Australia and caused no harm to the organisation.

"It is not known at the time of submission of the Report whether any appellate steps have been taken in respect of the declarations and penalty."

"If not, it is presumed that Mr Mitchell will further reflect on the need to refresh the Crown Board and take steps to expedite that process." Mr Mitchell has not appealed the ruling. He declined to comment until he had read the Bergin Report in full.

Demetriou latest to resign from Crown .
Chief executive Ken Barton and director Andrew Demetriou are the latest casualties of a scathing review of casino giant Crown Resorts.Chief executive Ken Barton looked set to become the third director to head for the exit on Thursday, with reports he agreed to step down after meeting with the company's chair Helen Coonan.

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