NSW Inquiry Into Crown Resorts To Commence From Jan 21
Crown Resorts is set to undergo the first of three inquiries regarding claims of illicit business practices filed by its shareholders. The hearings start on Jan 21 in Sydney, Australia.
The first order of business for the former supreme court judge Patricia Bergin is to lay out how she wishes to tackle the case.
Witnesses are expected to be called up only when then the New South Wales inquiry—set up as part of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority begins at a later date.
The two remaining inquiries by casino authorities in Victoria, as well as public hearings by the federal Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity are expected to commence after the results of the first inquiry are revealed.
Crown-Melco Deal Hit for Stanley Ho Ties
Crown is also concurrently tackling a class action suit from its shareholders; the company is attempting to deny the shareholders’ wish to take statements from Crown employees convicted in China for the illegal promotion of gambling.
The key focus of the NSW inquiry is assumed to be the Crown’s prospective $1.75 billion deal with Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts, which would give Melco a 20% stake in Crown Resorts. The inquiry will clarify whether the proposed deal is legally acceptable—specifically whether the deal beaches a clause in Crown’s license for its Barangaroo casino, which disbars a number of companies as well as Stanley Ho, Lawrence Ho’s father, from associating with Crown.
The clause became part of the license before it was granted in 2014 due to findings by authorities in New Jersey that revealed possible connections between Stanley Ho and the triad gangs in China and Macau.
NSW to Examine Media Allegations
Lawrence Ho’s part in the joint venture between Crown and Melco in Macau was approved in Macau; however, he will have to overcome this hurdle again in Australia. NSW casino regulations mandate that close associates of a firm that possesses a casino license must be of good repute and have no business dealings with persons or companies who have a tainted reputation.
The NSW inquiry will also examine issues first exposed by 60 Minutes and Nine, such as Crown’s complicity in money laundering, unreported cash transactions, and being in business with junket operators who may have links to organised crime.
60 Minutes Australia
The allegations may be examined by Bergin, raising questions of suitability for Crown. Since the potential violations occurred in Melbourne, Victoria it will be up to Bergin how far she will take the inquiry into these matters.