The Star Entertainment Group appoints Ben Heap as interim chairman

John O’Neil has stepped down as the company’s executive chairman.
John O’Neil has stepped down as the company’s executive chairman.

Following the resignation of John O’Neil, the Star Entertainment Group has named Ben Heap as interim chairman and Geoff Hogg as acting chief executive officer.

Australia.- The Star Entertainment Group has announced that Ben Heap will replace John O’Neil as executive chairman following O’Neil’s resignation last week. The company has also announced that Geoff Hogg will be appointed as acting chief executive officer. Both will assume their new roles starting June 1, subject to regulatory approvals.

O’Neill was appointed to the executive chairman role on an interim basis on April 1 following the resignation of managing director and CEO Matt Bekier on March 28. He was due to give evidence to New South Wales’ inquiry into The Star Entertainment last week, but the hearings were postponed until today (May 23) without explanation.

According to local media reports, Andrew Bowen, former director of institutional banking industrials sector at National Australia Bank, and Star director Richard Sheppard are also expected to give evidence today.

Since the inquiry started, chief financial officer Harry Theodore, chief casino officer Greg Hawkins and chief legal and risk officer Paula Martin have all stepped down.

Star director might have misled shareholders, inquiry hears

As previously reported by Focus Gaming News, Heap was accused of misleading shareholders by saying that media reports about the company were untruthful.

On October 11, he had told shareholders that media outlets the Sydney Morning Herald, 60 Minutes and The Age had exaggerated accusations against the company when they reported that the casino operator was implicated in suspected money laundering, organised crime and fraud. Despite Heap’s statements, Star shares lost 23 per cent of their value on the same day.

Counsel assisting the inquiry Casper Conde asked Heap about his claims and if he had misled the company’s shareholders. Heap denied that and said the media had sensationalised the accusations and that their claims did not adequately reflect how Star Entertainment considered the situation.

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