Paul Evans, the lawyer for Western Australia’s gambling regulator, has told the state’s Royal Commission it could cancel Crown Perth’s casino licence before the end of the inquiry if necessary.
Australia.- Western Australia’s Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) is ready to cancel Crown Perth’s casino licence before the end of the ongoing Royal Commission if necessary.
Paul Evans, GWC’s lawyer, said that although the Western Australian Royal Commission into Crown Perth will continue until March 2022, the gaming regulator may call on Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby to cancel Crown’s licence before the ending of the inquiry.
According to ABC, Evans said: “The GWC will not necessarily await these conclusions if matters disclosed give rise to a need to take action immediately.”
In the first week of July, the Royal Commission called on former and current Crown Resorts employees, government employees and the public in general to provide information about improper conduct.
The topics on which the Commission wants information are:
- money laundering;
- infiltration by criminals;
- problem gambling practices; and
- gratuitous rewards programs.
The WA Royal Commission is also investigating Crown Perth’s link with the arrest of 19 Crown employees in China in 2016, Crown’s changes following the Bergin inquiry and how the casino operator handled problem gambling.
At the next public hearings, Crown Resorts’ executive chairman Helen Coonan, Crown Perth board member Maryna Fewster and property’s CEO Lonnie Bossi will be called to give evidence.
Former WA Supreme Court judge Neville Owen, one of the three commissioners running the Royal Commission, has personal interests with some of the witnesses dismissed a conflict of interests.
Meanwhile, Adrian Finanzio, the counsel assisting Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Resorts, has told the inquiry that the casino operator should lose its licence for Crown Melbourne.
Finanzio argued that the evidence against Crown Melbourne during the inquiry showed “serious misconduct, illegal conduct and highly inappropriate conduct, which has been encouraged or facilitated by a culture which has consistently put profit before all other considerations.”
He said the company had put profits above legislative requirements and could owe the state AU$480m (US$351.4m) in unpaid taxes. Crown CEO Steve McCann has suggested that the tax underpayment stood at around AU$8m, but the figure could be significantly higher.
Crown’s lawyer claims significant changes made
Kanaga Dharmananda, Crown’s lawyer, has said that the company has made significant improvements following the Bergin Inquiry in order to detect deficiencies related to money laundering.
In May, the company announced that its casino venues were going to switch to cashless operations to help tackle money laundering. It also announced it was going to stop working with junket operators as a way to make its operations more transparent.
Crown Resorts also made changes to its board following the departure of five former Crown directors.
A few weeks ago, another Crown lawyer, Leon Zwier, wrote a letter to the Victorian gaming minister Melissa Horne warning that 12,000 jobs would be at risk if Crown is unable to retain its gaming licence.
Zwier wrote: “This will impact Crown’s shareholders, employees, unions, trade creditors, patrons, the hotel precinct, and the Melbourne tourism industry.”
Former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein, who’s leading the Victoria’s Royal Commission, said the letter made it seem Crown Resorts wanted to “make sure that the commission doesn’t make a particular finding.”
Helen Coonan, Crown Resorts’ executive chairman, denied that the operator had attempted to lean on the state government.
Due to recent news, Star Entertainment Group has withdrawn its offer to buy Crown Resorts.
Star Entertainment said: “Issues raised at Victoria’s Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne have the potential to materially impact the value of Crown, including whether it retains the license to operate its Melbourne casino or the conditions under which its license is retained.”