Lawyers assisting an inquiry initially launched for a formal investigation relating to allegations of money laundering is now threatening to deny Australian gambling giant Crown Resorts a casino licence in New South Wales.
Crown previously applied to open new casinos by the end of 2020 but needs a gambling licence issued by the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) in order to proceed as planned. It will now be up to former Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin, in her capacity as the chairperson of the inquiry, to make resulting recommendations to the ILGA regarding whether or not she considers the operator deserving of a casino licence in the south-eastern Australian state.
Tales Of Money Laundering
The inquiry involving Crown Resorts has been ongoing ever since the beginning of the year. The inquiry has been trying to determine whether or not Crown has allowed itself to become a breeding ground for the laundering of dirty money by turning a blind eye as high rollers burned through sports bags full of cash. The casino operator is also suspected to have partnered with known criminals providing junket services.
According to lawyer Adam Bell’s statement delivered before the Bergin on Tuesday, the fact that the operator in 2015 saw 19 of its employees arrested by police in China for marketing the casino giant’s products and offerings to Chinese nationals, should constitute more than enough valid grounds for a refusal of local licensing rights.
The China Incident
According to Bell, taking into account the fact that the workers were in fact discovered to have been encouraged by Crown Resorts to remain in China in order to try and garner profits for the operator even after the country announced imminent crackdowns on cross-border gambling, presented clear proof of Crown not subscribing to responsible corporate governance.
The fact that billionaire and former Crown CEO James Packer, who owns 36 percent of Crown Resorts, remains affiliated with the company isn’t likely to help the operator’s local licensing cause either. Though no longer on Crown’s board of directors, the inquiry managed to establish an ongoing influence and close involvement between the individual and the entity.
Packer last month conceded before the inquiry to acknowledging the fact that he would in all likelihood have to offload his shares in return for the awarding of the necessary casino licence to Crown in order to operate in New South Wales.