In Australia and the official inquiry into local casino operator Crown Resorts Limited will reportedly be temporarily suspended from tomorrow in order to accommodate a legal appeal lodged by the Attorney General for New South Wales, Mark Speakman.
According to a Wednesday report from The Australian newspaper, the wide-ranging examination from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority only began earlier this week and is looking into whether the casino firm is fit to keep the gambling license for its soon-to-open Crown Sydney facility.
The newspaper reported that the New South Wales regulator initiated the investigation after Melbourne-headquartered Crown Resorts Limited announced plans that were to see Asian counterpart Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited purchase an almost 20% shareholding in its business. The regulator is purportedly interested in discerning whether this latter firm’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, has any ties to organized crime or if either operator utilizes unscrupulous individuals as part of efforts to attract foreign patrons to their venues.
The Australian reported that Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited won an action before the Supreme Court of New South Wales late last month after the regulator had demanded to see confidential documents as part of this study that it claimed were legally privileged. The Hong Kong-based firm purportedly successfully argued that it should not have to produce these sensitive papers because the investigation did not have the same sweeping powers as an Australian Royal Commission.
Although the inquiry from the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority got underway on Monday, the newspaper reported that it is to now be momentarily halted so that Speakman can appeal against this ruling on behalf of the state. The examination into Crown Resorts Limited is being led by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin and could purportedly result in the firm being barred from offering gambling inside the $1.5 billion Crown Sydney, which is set to begin welcoming gamblers from later in the year following some 50 months of construction.
Bergin reportedly told the newspaper that her inquiry would be paused from Friday after hearing from a range of expert witnesses. She purportedly detailed that the second of the five-segment examination would subsequently look to obtain evidence from employees of Crown Resorts and Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited as well as people associated with The Star Sydney gambling-friendly venue from The Star Entertainment Group Limited.
Reportedly read a statement from Bergin…
“This segment of the hearing after tomorrow will involve evidence pertinent to the regulation and operation of casinos in this jurisdiction.”