Crown Casino Melbourne Closing Time
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A NSW probe into Crown Resorts has heard the casino giant’s attack on a young female employee is a ‘very bad blot’ on the company’s directors. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Steven SaphoreSource:News Corp Australia
Crown Resorts’ attack on a young female employee in a full-page advertisement aimed at refuting serious allegations is a “very bad blot” on the casino giant’s directors, an inquiry has heard.
The company ran the ad in July last year following explosive media reports centred on a room at Crown’s Melbourne venue exclusively used by Suncity — Macau’s biggest operator of high-roller “junkets” — with leaked footage showing huge wads of cash being exchanged for gambling chips.
It has been alleged Crown “turned a blind eye” to the massive transactions, which were allegedly linked to organised crime.
In the strongly worded ad, which was also issued to the Australian Securities Exchange, Crown said “much of this unbalanced and sensationalised reporting is based on unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods”.
It also lashed out at one of 19 staff arrested in China in 2016 for illegally promoting gambling tours on behalf of the casino, Jenny Jiang, who featured in one of the reports on 60 Minutes, suggesting she had been paid to appear.
“Also, the objectivity of the former employee is open to question on the basis that she made an unsuccessful demand for compensation from Crown of over 50 times her final annual salary,” the ad read.
It was revealed during the inquiry she was earning $28,000 annually.
During closing submissions to the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into the allegations, which seeks to determine if Crown should retain the gaming licence for its Barangaroo casino slated to open in December, Commissioner Patricia Bergin was scathing of the comments against Ms Jiang.
NSW Premier Gladys Berejiklian says she can’t rule out delaying opening the Barangaroo venue, with the inquiry findings due on February 1. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Jeremy PiperSource:News Corp Australia
“It’s a blot on the board, as I see it. A very bad blot,” Ms Bergin said on Tuesday.
It has been revealed during hearings the arrests were kept secret from the board, with Crown’s counsel Neil Young admitting it was a failing by senior management to not escalate the matter at the time.
“What they did was attack a young woman who had been detained for a period to suggest she wasn’t objective,” Ms Bergin said.
“I mean, once you read it, it’s almost incomprehensible to think that directors would have endorsed that paragraph.
“It’s really quite shocking, Mr Young.”
Crown chair Helen Coonan previously told the inquiry that the paragraph relating to Ms Jiang should never have been included and the general tone of the statement should have been softer.
Another Crown barrister, Perry Herzfeld, argued at the inquiry that the board felt the ad was necessary and appropriate to respond to the allegations “swiftly and firmly”.
While Ms Coonan had conceded vetting processes to identify whether Chinese junket operators were linked to organised crime were not “robust” enough, other executives had felt differently, Mr Herzfeld said.
“What Ms Coonan said was exquisitely appropriate,” Ms Bergin shot back.
“What I’m looking for is true commitment.”
Crown director Helen Coonan conceded at the inquiry junket vetting could have been more robust.Source:The Australian
Mr Herzfeld said Crown could hardly show stronger commitment (to adhering to anti-money laundering laws) than what it had announced on Tuesday to the ASX — that it would cease all dealings with overseas junket operators.
“Crown will only recommence dealing with a junket operator if that junket operator is licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in the states in which Crown operates,” the company said in its statement.
Mr Herzfeld also said the language used in the media reports “may fairly be described as sensationalised”.
“Some of the most serious specific allegations made in the media are unsupportable,” he said.
Crown Casino Melbourne Time Zone
One of the reports that prompted the ad, published in The Age, alleged a criminal syndicate known as “The Company” used Crown to launder its funds, “with Crown licensing and paying syndicate members to generate turnover in its Melbourne and Perth casinos”.
“So far as there are allegations Crown got into bed with The Company or paid commission to The Company … these allegations are not supported by the evidence available to the inquiry,” Mr Herzfeld said.
The report also cited a “junket representative secretly working for The Company”, Roy Moo, as saying he was hired due to his Crown contacts and because laundering money through the casino was “easier than using a bank”.
Mr Herzfeld said Mr Moo had been approved by the Victorian regulator to be a junket tour operator, but Crown refused to deal with him after he was charged with offences in March 2013.
“Some of the media allegations concern matters of some time ago, and they are of less significance than the matters which occurred more recently,” the barrister said.
Crown said in closing submissions on Monday the board had taken action to rectify the management failures.
Crown Casino Melbourne Closing Times
Victoria’s gambling regulator and the State Government are under increasing pressure over its handling of Crown Casino after the gaming giant admitted money laundering was likely to have occurred at its Melbourne and Perth casinos.
The admission to a NSW inquiry has prompted that state’s regulator to delay the opening of Crown’s new multi-billion-dollar casino in Sydney.
The NSW inquiry is assessing Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a casino licence.
The revelations in Sydney about Crown’s Melbourne operations have raised fresh questions over the effectiveness of the Victoria Commission for Gaming and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) which has been approached with multiple complaints about Crown in recent years.
and The Age have exposed allegations of money laundering, links to criminal groups and overseas junket operators.
The VCGLR has issued a show cause notice to Crown over its junket operations — in which cashed-up overseas gamblers are lured to Crown. The nation’s anti-money laundering body AUSTRAC is also investigating issues at the casino.
As previously reported by the ABC, there are concerns from within the VCGLR that issues at Crown are not being taken seriously by the watchdog.
Gambling reform advocate says political donations helped Crown avoid scrutiny
Tim Costello, the chief advocate for the Alliance for Gambling Reform, said Crown’s ‘bombshell’ admission that money laundering was likely occurring in Melbourne and Perth was ‘simply extraordinary’ and should be of concern to all Australians.
‘It says it [Crown] has been a criminal enterprise,’ he said.
‘There has been wholesale money laundering going on and Crown admitted it [on Wednesday] after effectively hiding it for most of the inquiry.
‘This is quite an astonishing finding that every Australian should be shaking in their boots that this has gone on for so long.’
Mr Costello said the revelations should put the spotlight back on the VCGLR and the national corporate regulator ASIC.
He has also criticised Crown’s influence over Victorian politicians on both sides of the aisle.
He said the gaming giant’s ties to Spring Street accounted for why allegations of criminal activity in Melbourne’s casinos had gone without consequence for so long.
‘Crown has captured politics [and] the politicians are silent because it gives great donations to both sides of politics,’ Mr Costello said.
‘That is why it has taken a New South Wales inquiry to really expose massive laundering and criminal activity here in Melbourne.’
In 2017–18, Crown donated $35,000 to Victorian Labor and $30,000 to Victorian Liberals.
Mr Costello said he expected far-reaching organisational change at Crown with an ‘embarrassed’ board facing fallout from the inquiry.
‘They’ve got to turn over most of their board. They have been utterly exposed and they have effectively just been puppets of James Packer,’ he said.
‘James Packer is almost certainly going to have to sell out and hand over to someone who can pass the probity test in holding a licence.’
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Crown won’t have licence suspended in Melbourne
Premier Daniel Andrews said the casino would not have its licence suspended in the wake of the money laundering admission but said the regulator would make further inquiries.
He also said the Government would closely examine the final report from NSW, due early next year.
‘There is a sacred trust when it comes to these licences, and they need to be complied with,’ Mr Andrews said.
The Opposition and the Greens have been critical of the VCGLR for not acting quick enough on Crown Casino.
Liberal leader Michael O’Brien said the commission was ‘asleep at the wheel’, while Greens MP Ellen Sandell said the Government must terminate Crown’s licence.
Mr Andrews, who is former Gaming Minister, defended the work of the regulator.
‘It is simply wrong in my judgement to say that they are waiting for others to do their job for them, nothing can be further from the truth.’