Australian investigation urged to withdraw main casino license from Crown Resorts



The logo of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts adorns a fence surrounding the Crown Perth Resort and Casino in Western Australia on October 20, 2016. REUTERS / Aaron Bunch

SYDNEY, July 20 (Reuters) – Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd (CWN.AX) is set to have its gambling license withdrawn from its main Melbourne resort due to insufficient and uncertain efforts to reform its culture and eradicate money laundering, according to an investigation Tuesday.

The investigating lawyer also expressed “little confidence” in the former Australian communications minister who chaired the company and suggested that it could take two years before he is fit to run operations of the company. Game.

The recommendations after months of hearings have yet to be considered by the Federal Court judge overseeing the proceedings. If accepted, the company 37% owned by billionaire James Packer would see gambling stopped at the Melbourne city casino which generates three-quarters of its profits.

Shares of Crown, which is the target of two takeover approaches, fell as much as 3% by mid-afternoon, outpacing a broader market decline (.AXJO).

“The business revival agenda that Crown says is underway is insufficient and so uncertain that it leads this committee to the conclusion that there is a sufficiently clear path to adequacy,” said Adrian Finanzio, the lawyer hired by the State of Victoria to conduct the questioning.

A previous investigation into a newly constructed Australian $ 2.2 billion ($ 1.6 billion) hotel complex in Sydney concluded that Crown would not be suitable for a gambling license in that city in February, and “From the evidence listed in these hearings, it remains clear that Crown Melbourne is not fit to be licensed now,” he added.

The Sydney investigation accused Crown of turning a blind eye to organized crime, allowing Packer to have an inappropriate level of control over decision-making and to ignore the safety of personnel jailed in China for violating regulations. anti-gambling laws of this country.

Under Helen Coonan’s new presidency, Crown had proposed an “impressive reform program (but) by the most favorable estimates the reform program will not be completed until the end of 2022,” Finanzio said at the meeting. hearing.

Crown said in a statement that it was “carefully considering” Finanzio’s remarks before submitting its own closing brief to the investigation on August 3. read more

Finanzio said Coonan must have contributed to Crown’s corporate governance issues since she joined the board in 2011, shortly after leaving the Australian government.

“Ms Coonan’s record as director of Crown Resorts makes it clear that her inaction in the past has contributed to the problems” and her actions since the Sydney Inquiry “give little confidence that she is the right person to lead the way. ‘magnitude of the change required,’ he said. mentionned.

($ 1 = AU $ 1,3659)

Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Lincoln Feast and Louise Heavens

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