In the southern Australian state of Victoria and an independent investigation has reportedly called for the local government to pass legislation that would explicitly prohibit casinos from partnering with foreign junket firms.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, the enquiry being chaired by prominent Australian lawyer Ian Freckelton (pictured) was launched in July after five former members of the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) publicly accused the watchdog of having become a ‘lap-dog’ for Crown Resorts Limited and repeatedly ignoring claims of money laundering at the operator’s giant Crown Melbourne property.
However, Freckelton reportedly cleared the VCGLR of corruption earlier today by divulging that he had been unable to find any evidence in support of the past investigators’ accusations. Nevertheless, the source detailed that the former Nauru Supreme Court Judge’s 148-page report into the matter did list several recommendations including the ban on junkets, increased probity of high-value players and greater regulatory investment.
Freckelton’s findings reportedly read…
“We have not found any wrongdoing, corruption, unlawfulness, a breach of any laws/regulations or motivations based on improper purposes at the VCGLR based on any part of our investigation.”
With regards to junkets and Freckleton reportedly advised that such enterprises ‘be legislatively abolished’ across Australia’s most densely populated state with any potential successors ‘to be made subject to the most stringent levels of regulatory scrutiny’. In addition, the lawyer purportedly recommended that the VCGLR and Melbourne-headquartered Crown Resorts Limited revise their relationship in order to be better able to access VIP punters via the use of more detailed Internal Control Statements.
The submission from Freckelton reportedly read…
“There should be a review of the 2020 Internal Control Statements that regulates the casino operator’s probity assessments of premium players with a view to ensuring a satisfactory level of reliable and accountable evaluation of whether such persons are fit and proper persons and so that the regulator can effectively discharge its regulatory responsibilities over such assessments by the casino operator.”
Finally, Freckelton reportedly advised that the government of Victoria should consider ‘investing further in the resourcing and capabilities of the intelligence and investigation units within the compliance division’ of the VCGLR and bring in more people to ensure that the regulator’s casino teams are sufficiently staffed at all times.
In replying to the findings of Freckelton’s enquiry and the Chair of the VCGLR, Ross Kennedy, reportedly pronounced that it was comforting to know that the investigation had uncovered ‘no evidence of wrongdoing, corruption or unlawfulness’ and found the current management of his organization to be ‘dedicated, professional and reflective.’
Reportedly read a statement from Kennedy…
“The findings of the independent investigation deserve equal prominence with which the original allegations were broadcast. While it is pleasing that the investigation has confirmed the VCGLR’s integrity, there are references to historical shortcomings that have been addressed and recommendations for further improvement that are welcomed, consistent with our reform program underway and will be fully implemented.”