James Packer’s vote spares Crown execs

A new statutory auditor was named at Crown's general meeting.
A new statutory auditor was named at Crown's general meeting.

At its annual general meeting, Crown’s chairman said the operator won’t work with junkets without consultation with regulators and Deloitte.  

Australia.- Gambling billionaire James Packer participated in Crown Resorts annual general meeting and saved three of the operator’s executives with his majority vote.

With the company under investigation by the NSW gaming regulator and the Australian money-laundering authority (AUSTRAC), it was expected that shareholders may seek to oust existing directors.

But Packer still owns about 36 per cent of the casino operator and his vote in favour of directors Jane Halton, John Horvath and Guy Jalland was decisive.

However, after the votes, Horvath announced his intention to retire as director of Crown. In a later statement, Crown said he will remain a director until alternative arrangements are put in place.

At the virtual meeting, John Alexander’s retirement was officialised. He will remain an executive until January 2021.

At the beginning of the meeting, chairman Helen Coonan said: “The inquiry currently being conducted by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) in New South Wales has raised serious and important issues.

“In all of its history, Crown has never faced adversity like we are now but I’d like to reassure all our investors, stakeholders and staff that the board is determined and willing to learn from the past.

“We are undertaking tough and wide-ranging reforms to our management, structures, policies, procedures and culture to ensure we respond to these challenges and emerge a stronger and better organisation for it.”

One of these reforms has to do with strengthening compliance, risk and audit procedures. KPMG was appointed as a statutory auditor during the meeting.

Coonan “unreservedly apologised” for the governance and risk management failings that came to light during the NSW ILGA inquiry.

She noted that Crown has suspended all junket operations until next June. She said: “we recognise that we must be a leader in this area, and that simply accepting the practice of other operators is not good enough.”

Should Crown resume junkets operations, it will only be after extensive consultation with regulators and a review conducted by Deloitte, she said.

She added: “We accept that these changes are not the end of our journey. On an ongoing basis, we are committed to always acting in a way that meets all of our obligations and satisfies community expectations as they evolve.”

Coonan confirmed Crown’s new Sydney casino is set to open in December, and that the company expects Crown Melbourne to begin a phased reopening in the near term.

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