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Australia Perth Casino Royal Commission interim report into Crown tabled in state parliament

14:06  03 august  2021
14:06  03 august  2021 Source:   abc.net.au

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The Perth Casino Royal Commission is investigating whether there was an "informal, if not lax" process for declaring and investigating conflicts of interest between departmental officers and casino employees.

In its interim report tabled in state parliament today, the Commissioners said the PCRC continued to investigate alleged conflicts of interest.

The WA government announced the royal commission in March in response to the bombshell Bergin inquiry into Crown Resorts, which found that international criminal organisations were likely to have been laundering money at Crown Perth.

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The inquiry was also tasked with examining the performance of the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) — WA's casino watchdog.

In May, the PCRC heard the government bureaucrat in charge of overseeing Crown Perth's operations had been going away on weekend fishing trips with a senior executive since 2013 and sold him a boat.

The interim report stated that evidence to date had raised several issues relating to conflicts of interest which required "further consideration".

This included whether in the past the GWC had appreciated its role to ensure departmental officers who were performing duties on its behalf declared conflicts of interest to the GWC.

"It is a matter for investigation whether the GWC has a process for assessing and managing any conflict of which it becomes aware, in a timely manner," the interim report found.

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"In relation to the Department's capability and effectiveness in identifying and addressing any actual or perceived conflicts of interest as a means of supporting the GWC, there are serious questions to be considered.

"A question of consideration is whether, prior to the establishment of the PCRC, the department had an informal, if not lax, process for declaring, investigating and acting on conflict of interest between departmental officers involved in casino regulation and Perth Casino employees.

"Even if it is difficult to avoid such conflicts, there is still a need to have in place procedures to ensure conflicts are declared, investigated and managed.

"The capacity for such relationships to affect adversely the proper regulation of the Perth casino is obvious.

"The Department and the GWC have the responsibility to ensure on behalf of the public of Western Australia that this does not occur."

Other issues the PCRC said it was investigating included whether the funding of the GWC was adequate, and the appropriateness of its key performance indicators.

It was also considering whether regulatory changes affecting the GWC had an impact on a reduced physical presence at the casino and on inspections.

The GWC's actions in relation to problem gambling and harm minimisation were also under consideration.

The commission's final report was due in November.

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