Former Crown chair gave info to Packer, inquiry hears

John Poynton resigned as a director and chairman of Crown Perth in March.
John Poynton resigned as a director and chairman of Crown Perth in March.

Western Australia’s Royal Commission has heard that John Poynton, a former Crown chairman, agreed to provide confidential information to James Packer.

Australia.- The Western Australian Royal Commission into Crown Resorts has been told that John Poynton, former director and chairman, had an agreement with James Packer to provide him with confidential information about Crown’s businesses.

Poyton, who stepped down from Crown Resorts’ board in March, said the agreement was made in May 2018, when he replaced James Packer on the board.

During the inquiry, Patricia Cahill, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, said Poyton provided confidential information on demand. When she asked Poyton why he agreed to the deal, he answered: “I’m not sure in hindsight. What I would say is that it never happened.”

According to ABC, Poyton said the arrangement was Packer’s idea but added Packer never demanded confidential information from him. Poyton and Packer met four times a year and the average length of the meetings was about 90 minutes.

Western Australia’s Royal Commission into Crown Perth will be extended until March 2022 to give commissioners more time to carry out investigations.

It followed a similar decision for Victoria’s Royal Commission, which will continue until October 15 after the government approved judge Raymond Finkelstein’s request for an extension.

The WA Royal Commission was expected to deliver a final report by November 14 but Western Australia Premier Mark McGowan said: “The state government believes that public interest will be best served if the Perth casino Royal Commission has sufficient time to produce its final report.”

GWC could cancel Crown Perth’s casino licence before the end of the Royal Commission

Paul Evans, GWC’s lawyer said the gaming regulator may call on Racing and Gaming Minister Reece Whitby to cancel Crown’s licence before the end 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.”

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.

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