In Australia and the Victorian royal commission looking into the local gambling license suitability of Crown Resorts Limited has reportedly branded the local casino operator’s attitude towards implementing effective anti-money laundering controls as ‘disgraceful’.
According to a report from the Reuters news service, the Melbourne-headquartered firm was being investigated after the gambling regulator for the neighboring state of New South Wales refused the casino license request for its new Crown Sydney development. This late-2020 rebuke followed the conclusion of another official probe that purportedly determined the company may have been complicit in a slew of money laundering allegations tied to its past use of foreign junket firms.
The over eight-month Victoria examination led by former Federal Court Judge Ray Finkelstein reportedly released its own findings earlier today and criticized Crown Resorts Limited for its ‘disgraceful’ actions. The enquiry purportedly also disclosed that it similarly believed the operator could have been guilty of enabling money laundering and misleading regulators.
However, rather than following the lead of New South Wales and ordering Crown Resorts Limited to surrender the gambling license for its flagship Crown Melbourne development, the Victoria probe reportedly recommended allowing the 1,600-room facility to continue running a casino under supervision for the next two years. The inquest moreover purportedly endorsed a plan that would oblige billionaire Australian businessman James Packer, who currently holds a 37% shareholding in the Sydney-listed enterprise, to cut his interest to just 5% by the autumn of 2024.
Reuters reported that the individual value of shares in Crown Resorts Limited has declined by 17% since early last year but that today’s temporary reprieve saw them rebound to close around 9% higher at approximately $7.88. The news service explained that The Star Entertainment Group Limited, which binned a proposed takeover offer for its beleaguered rival in July, similarly ended the day on a high as the price of its own shares climbed by just over 4% to about $2.71.
Victoria’s Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister, Melissa Horne, reportedly divulged that the state would accept all of the recommendations from the royal commission including one that would look to raise the maximum penalty for casino wrongdoing from $750,000 to $75 million. The Labor politician purportedly furthermore pronounced that an independent manager is to now be brought in to investigate the Melbourne casino’s operations and its books with additional authority to direct the board and veto its decisions.
Horne reportedly declared…
“We are creating the most stringent oversight of any casino in the country. No longer will Crown Resorts Limited’s destiny be its to manage.”