In the Australian state of New South Wales and the official inquiry looking into the casino license suitability of Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly been told that majority shareholder James Packer should not be held responsible for the 2016 arrests of the firm’s employees in China.
According to a Thursday report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, this assertion came from a lawyer working on behalf of Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited vehicle, Noel Hutley, as part of the latest round of a long-running examination into whether Crown Resorts Limited should be allowed to keep the license for its under-construction Crown Sydney development.
The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority was reportedly earlier told that Packer, who owns 36% of the Melbourne-headquartered casino firm through his Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited enterprise, had taken a relaxed approach to allegations of impropriety and should be held at least partly responsible for the 19 arrests. Counsels assisting the inquiry being chaired by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin purportedly asserted that the billionaire Australian businessman had also distorted reporting lines within the casino company that had caused it to overlook red flags regarding whether its staff may be in danger.
The newspaper reported that this prejudice is alleged to have come from Packer’s establishment of a ‘working group’ consisting of executives from Crown Resorts Limited’s VIP team alongside Michael Johnston, who was an executive with Consolidated Press Holdings Proprietary Limited. This body was purportedly convened so as to advise senior company executives in addition to board and risk management committee members but allegedly failed to pass on vital information while ‘blurring the lines’ concerning the legality of the casino firm’s operations in China.
However, Hutley reportedly told investigators that it is unfair to directly blame Johnston and by extension Packer for this breakdown in communication as Crown Resorts Limited’s former Chief Executive Officer, Rowen Craigie, had similarly failed to escalate important information.
Hutley reportedly told the inquiry…
“There has obviously been a breakdown in reporting, quite clearly. But these structures failed without any assistance from the VIP working group; they just failed.”
The New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority reportedly heard from Hutley that Johnston could not have additionally been expected to understand that Crown Resorts Limited’s proper reporting structures were not working although he conversely indicated that this alleged state of affairs did not necessarily directly cast blame on the casino company itself.
Hutley reportedly asserted…
“That’s likely to be not a structural problem with Crown Resorts Limited but flaws in the individuals who simply misconceived risk in an area. It was human error.”