James Packer Admits His Absence May Have Led to Crown Resort’s Issues

James Packer, the founder and former chairman of Crown Resorts, admitted that during the time he ran the company, there were many oversights which were the result of not complying in part or fully with the requirements which came as a result of missing board meetings for four years. Officials became aware last Friday of the details surrounding the difficulties that Crown is facing Sydney and Melbourne, the way that the company dealt with risks of money laundering in Perth, as well as the potential efforts to manipulate investigations. The Perth casino is responsible for a quarter of the profits that the company makes.

Packer Wasn’t Present at Any Meetings After Leaving Australia in 2013

Packer owns 37% of Crown Resorts and as he indicated, he left Australia back in 2013 and wasn’t present at any of Perth board meetings from that point to 2016. The reason why this is such shocking news is that during this period, he was the chairman of the company, and he admitted that he should’ve been present or resigned. Packer ceased all of his corporate roles in Crown, estimated at $7.1 billion (AU$7 billion) back in 2018. While acting as the top shareholder and head of the company, he managed to set the line of action for over 10 years.

According to Packer, he was not aware of his company’s illegalities. All of that changed when 19 Crown employees were arrested in China back in 2016. The employees were promoting gambling activities in the country, even though they were illegal.

At the time, Crown disclosed that it would pay a $125-million fine to settle the class-action lawsuit. But the problems did not stop there. Crown has been under scrutiny in all of the states where its casinos operate. New South Wales (NSW) and Victoria royal commissions deemed Crown as unsuitable for owning a license after it was revealed that the operator laundered money in those facilities. NSW terminated its license, while Victoria gave Crown two years to get on the right side of the law.

During the hearing, there were no objections from Packer regarding the process of him selling his 37% share. He will keep 5%, as advised by a Victoria inquiry, once, and if, his stake is sold.

Packer Acted as Chairman of Two Companies

Packer was the chairman of both Crown Resorts and Burswood Limited. Burswood oversaw the casino in Perth from 2007 to 2015. He admitted the fact that the harm in that casino’s management may have come as a result of him not being present as the Burswood chair from 2013 to 2016.

His absence may also be the reason why the ANZ closed an account that was maintained by the company at the bank. The account was later connected to Riverside, a company that was associated with money laundering, and this case was finally reported to the board of directors.

According to Packer, the board should’ve never had senior executives. Instead, it should’ve been comprised of independent directors. Since that wasn’t the case, the result was a bad self-management of Crown Perth. However, he disagreed with other evidence that was provided by the Burswood chair and an ex-director. The former executive, John Poynton, stated that he didn’t have any authority and was unable to tell the Perth casino how to run its operations.

He also objected to statements of Patricia Cahill SC, a counsel that assisted the commission, who said that agreements made between the Crown Melbourne operations and the state would’ve been destructive to the casino in Perth as its WA government obligations.

Packer stated that the Perth casino was really important to him and that he wanted it and was dedicated to the facility both emotionally and financially. That was the first casino that was bought by PBL outside of Melbourne. He asked for several repetitions of questions and was slow to answer other questions because he said in a written statement that he has health issues that date back to 2016 and was diagnosed as bipolar. The strong medication and treatments that he takes to this day may have impaired his memory.

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