James Packer has told the WA Royal Commission into Crown Resorts that he didn’t attend board meetings for almost four years and failed in his oversight of corporate governance at Crown Perth.
Australia.- Western Australia’s Royal Commission‘s latest session had Crown’s former chair and biggest shareholder giving evidence via video link. During the public hearing, Packer admitted to Patricia Cahill, counsel assisting the Royal Commission, that he failed to attend board meetings for nearly four years after moving overseas and failed to ensure the board had a written charter.
He said he did not attend the Burswood board meeting after leaving the country in 2013, but continued to receive news about casino operations from Barry Felsted, Crown’s then head of Australian resorts.
Cahill then asked Packer if there was anyone appointed to the Board who had financial crime risks management experience and anti-money laundering expertise and Packer said he didn’t believe there was. He admitted there were many oversights and things that should have been done differently.
Packer was also asked about Crown Perth’s adoption of the name “Riverbank Investments” for its bank account to allow Chinese high rollers to mask their transactions. Packer noted that the company was named employer of the year in 2015 and he believed Crown’s corporate culture has been achieving good things but that at some point “the culture slipped.”
He said he didn’t believe Crown Perth had been involved in money laundering.
Packer owns 37 per cent of Crown through his company, Consolidated Press Holdings, but the Royal Commission of Victoria recommended that he be forced to sell down to 5 per cent by September 2024, something that Parker did not object to.
In March, the Western Australian government announced a Royal Commission to examine the suitability of Crown Resorts to continue holding a casino gaming licence for Crown Perth. The decision came after the Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia (GWC) asked for an independent inquiry into Crown Resorts following the Bergin inquiry in New South Wales.
Crown reaches US$94m shareholder settlement agreement
Crown Resorts has reached an agreement to settle the shareholder class action against the company that started in December 2017 in the Federal Court of Australia, referenced as Zantran Pty Limited versus Crown Resorts Limited. The total settlement amount was AU$125m (US$94.3m) inclusive of interest and costs.
The legal action was brought by Australian law firm Maurice Blackburn, who claimed the casino operator failed to inform shareholders about its marketing campaign in China which later led to the arrest of 19 of its employees and a sharp fall in share price.
Through a statement, the company said: “Crown’s Board of Directors determined that the agreement to settle the Proceeding was a commercial decision made in the best interests of Crown and its shareholders.”