James Packer’s Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) had two agreements with Crown Resorts terminated ahead of the annual general meeting (AGM) of Crown’s shareholders.
No More Privileged Shareholder Information
Crown Resorts announced Wednesday, October 21, it had terminated the Controlling Shareholder Protocol, an agreement dated back to October 31, 2018, under the terms of which confidential information from the casino company was shared to CPH and James Packer. The information shared with the company that currently holds a 36.8% stake in Crown and its owner was not shared with the rest of the shareholders.
In addition to the 2018 shareholder protocol, Crown Resorts terminated the Service Agreement from July 1, 2016, which “enabled Crown to request the provision of services by key CPH executives at pre-agreed hourly rates”. The announcement for the termination of both agreements comes right on the eve of Crown Resorts’ AGM scheduled for Thursday, where significant changes at board level are expected.
Investigations into Crown’s AML Controls
The casino company is under pressure by two regulatory bodies, the Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) and the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) in New South Wales (NSW), as both are investigating possible anti-money laundering (AML) control lapses at the casino.
The NSW inquiry was told Wednesday former Crown Resorts chairman, Rob Rankin, should be investigated for possible breach of his duties as a director. The counsel assisting the inquiry, Scott Aspinall told the commission Rankin may have breached his duties on two occasions in 2015.
Rankin, who was a chairmen of Crown between August 2015 and January 2016 and remained director until June 2016, first, did not inform the rest of the board that Chinese authorities would act against Crown staff in China, and second, he failed to tell the other directors about the threats he received by e-mail from CPH owner James Packer.
Besides, Rob Rankin refused to give evidence and attempts to summon him in England had failed, Aspinall further outlined, telling the inquiry’s commissioner Patricia Bergin SC that evidence suggested Rankin failed, without justifiable reason, to perform his duties on both occasions.
Former Director Admits to Junket Allegations
Earlier in the hearing, commissioners were told by former Crown Resorts director Geoff Dixon that allegations from 2014 that some junket operators had links to organized crime were correct. Dixon was one of two Crown directors who were appointed on the recommendation from the company’s biggest shareholder James Packer. He joined Crown Resorts from the Packer’s family Publishing and Broadcasting Limited and retired in October 2019.
Dixon further informed the inquiry that several allegations of criminal involvement in junkets or money laundering through Crown’s casinos were not brought to the risk committee that he chaired.