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Australia Crown 'not suitable' for Melbourne licence

06:48  20 july  2021
06:48  20 july  2021 Source:   aap.com.au

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Victoria announced the inquiry into Crown Resorts' suitability to run its Melbourne casino in February, after a New South Wales inquiry found it was unfit to hold a casino licence in that state. Premier Daniel Andrews has declared he is prepared to rip up Crown 's contract if the commission recommends it. But it took the damning findings of the NSW Bergin inquiry to force the government to launch the royal commission. That's despite years of media reports exposing serious issues at the casino and the gambling regulator, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR).

Crown has been found to be " not suitable " to hold a gaming licence for the new .2 billion casino at Barangaroo in Sydney. The finding comes from an inquiry report by former Supreme Court judge Commissioner Patricia Bergin into the suitability of Crown to operate a casino licence amid Crown earlier entered a trading halt ahead of the inquiry's findings. (Nick Moir). It was also deemed to be unsuitable to be a "close associate" of parent company Crown Resorts. The findings, while damning, do not mean Crown 's Barangaroo casino will not be granted a licence . The report made a number of

Crown is not suitable to hold a licence for its Melbourne casino, a royal commission has been told.

a sign in front of a building: Crown is accused of engaging in illegal conduct motivated by a culture that placed profit first. © Michael Dodge/AAP PHOTOS Crown is accused of engaging in illegal conduct motivated by a culture that placed profit first.

Counsel assisting Adrian Finanzio SC on Tuesday said the inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations had revealed illegal conduct motivated by a culture that placed profit above all else.

"After all of the evidence presented in these hearings, it remains clear that Crown Melbourne is not presently suitable to hold the casino licence," Mr Finanzio told the inquiry in his closing submissions.

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not a suitable person to continue to give effect to the licence , and that Crown Resorts is not a suitable person to be a close associate of the licensee. Adam Bell SC reached the conclusion after considering “the deleterious impact on the good governance of Crown Resorts caused by its dominant shareholder [James The Barangaroo casino is yet to open, but Crown already operates two other Australian casinos, one in Melbourne and one in Perth, and one in London. The Melbourne casino has been the centre of multiple whistle-blower and other allegations connected with tampering with gambling

The licence review, which was not expected until 2023, has been brought forward in the wake of a New South Wales inquiry into allegations of the gaming giant's money laundering operations. "This review is needed given the evidence we've seen come out of the NSW inquiry," she said. "While we await the findings of that investigation, it's appropriate to bring forward the next review to ensure Crown Melbourne is suitable to hold a licence in Victoria."

"This is not a case of isolated or trifling indiscretions or breaches, capable of easy and quick rectification ... no amount of restructuring can restore confidence in it as a proper person to hold a licence.

"The evidence reveals serious misconduct, illegal conduct and highly inappropriate conduct which has been encouraged or facilitated by a culture which has consistently put profit ahead before all other considerations."

Mr Finanzio also called for the heads of Crown chair Helen Coonan and Crown Melbourne chief Xavier Walsh.

He said while Ms Coonan, a former Howard government minister, should be commended for her "willingness to stay the course", she was tied up in the "past failings" of Crown.

Ms Coonan, who became Crown boss in February 2020 after joining as a director in 2011, wrote a letter with her lawyers at Arnold Bloch Leibler on July 2 requesting an "urgent meeting" with gaming minister Melissa Horne while also stating it is "not in the public interest for Crown to fail".

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A landmark inquiry has found Crown Resorts, Australia's largest casino operator, is not suitable to hold a gaming licence in Sydney. It puts into question whether Crown will be able to open its already-built casino in Australia's largest city. Two directors quit on Wednesday over the findings which confirm money laundering and organised crime links. Crown is now also facing calls from some lawmakers for its casino licences in Melbourne and Perth to be suspended. The firm has halted trading on the Australian Securities Exchange.

Crown Resorts has officially been told by the New South Wales regulator it is no longer a suitable person to hold a gaming licence for its .2 billion Barangaroo casino. In a notice to shareholders, Crown said it had received a letter from the Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton resigned in the wake of the report. (Eamon Gallagher). At present, Crown holds liquor licences to operate its restaurants and hotels at its new casino in Sydney. These liquor licences are set to expire at the end of April. Philip Crawford, the chair of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which has the power to

"She is not suitable to be leading the cultural reform that Crown needs at this time," Mr Finanzio said.


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Mr Walsh, the inquiry heard previously, knew Crown Melbourne underpaid millions in gaming taxes to the Victorian government for three years but did nothing about it until the day after the royal commission was announced.

"The evidence in these hearings has brought into serious question the judgement and integrity of Mr Walsh," Mr Finanzio said.

"He, along with Ms Coonan, cannot be the credible face of the change required at Crown. Their mutual failings underscore the culture still at play at Crown."

The inquiry, overseen by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC, continues with closing submissions from Crown on August 3.

Crown, Mr Finanzio said, has agreed to pay back $50 million in gaming taxes. The royal commission was earlier told the total sum of unpaid taxes could be as high as $272 million.

Commissioner Finkelstein will make his recommendation on Crown's Melbourne licence by October 15.

"Wherever I look I see not just bad conduct but illegal conduct, improper conduct, unacceptable conduct, and it permeates the whole organisation," he said previously.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews on Tuesday said he was "very confident" Commissioner Finkelstein would "do the job well" in his final report.

"We'll make findings and we'll not hesitate to act on that," Mr Andrews told reporters.

"It is clear what has gone on there shouldn't have gone on - otherwise I wouldn't have called the royal commission."

The Victorian premier has stated his willingness to rip up Crown's Melbourne casino licence if recommended to do so.

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