Crown Resorts is facing fresh scrutiny in the state of Western Australia (WA), where it operates the Crown Perth Casino. The state gaming regulator, the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC), has asked that a public inquiry be established to determine the company’s suitability for licensing in the jurisdiction.
The call comes after a similar inquiry in New South Wales (NSW) found the company unfit for licensing in that state. Crown recently opened the $1.7 billion Crown Sydney in the NSW capital without gaming operations, and its future now hangs in the balance.
But the findings of NSW’s Bergin Inquiry also jeopardizes the company’s licenses in Melbourne and Perth, since most of the infractions detailed in the report occurred in those jurisdictions.
In her bombshell report, inquiry chair Patricia Bergin found that Crown was culpable of “facilitating money laundering, exposing staff to the risk of detention in a foreign jurisdiction, and pursuing commercial relationships with individuals with connections to Triads and organized crime groups.”
Discreet Accounts at Crown Perth
While the more egregious examples of money laundering occurred at Crown’s flagship property in Melbourne, the report emphasizes that junket operators with links to crime syndicates also had relationships with the Perth property.
Meanwhile, two bank accounts used by Crown for discreet VIP deposits at both Perth and Melbourne had been used by criminal gangs to launder the proceeds of their operations.
One account, linked to a shell company called Riverbank Investments Pty Ltd, was the conduit for hundreds of millions of dollars into Crown Perth.
The recommendation for a suitability inquiry came after a meeting Wednesday between the GWC and the WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch. The inquiry has the backing of Racing and Gaming Minister Paul Papalia.
Regulator Resigns Over Boating Friendships
On Friday, the deputy director general of the Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries [DLGSC], and the chief casino officer for GWC, Michael Connolly, resigned over allegations he had been too pally with Crown Perth management.
The regulator said Connolly had “made a formal declaration of an [conflicted] interest due to his personal associations with staff at Crown Perth” in October.
Connolly admitted being friends with Crown Perth managers, whom he regularly took fishing on his boat, although they were not executive level.
Victoria Could Follow Suit
Meanwhile, in the state of Victoria, opposition lawmakers were demanding to know why they weren’t having a suitability inquiry, too. Victoria hosts the Crown Resorts’ flagship Melbourne property.
“The findings from the Bergin inquiry could not be more serious,” the Victorian shadow minister for gaming and liquor regulation, Steph Ryan, said Tuesday. “Victorians are rightly asking why Daniel Andrews [Premier of Victoria] is not investigating the allegations of money laundering and the infiltration of organized crime at Melbourne’s casino.”
“It’s a matter of public record that Crown has donated significant sums of money to the Victorian Labor Party and the organization has employed prominent [ruling party] Labor figures,” she added.
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