James Packer, the businessman behind Crown Resorts, told commissioners from the independent inquiry his bipolar disorder badly affected a lot of his past actions. The casino mogul appeared for the first time in front of the inquiry members Tuesday afternoon.
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) in New South Wales (NSW) continues with hearings of former and present Crown personnel, seeking to assess the ability of the casino operator to hold a license for its newly built harbor-side casino resort in Barangaroo, Sydney.
Money Laundering and Junket Operations
In particular, the inquiry is interested into allegations Crown turned a blind eye to money laundering, in exchange for an influx of high-rollers from China brought by junket operators, seeking to evaluate the company’s mechanisms to identify and mitigate serious risks.
The hearing of Mr Packer was paused as his lawyers argued certain e-mails sent by him should be kept confidential, but the inquiry decided to protect the identity of the e-mails receiver for the purposes of the investigation by referring to him as Mr X, and revealed the threatening correspondence.
The reason behind sending the e-mails was not revealed but James Packer admitted his behavior was “shameful and disgraceful” by that time. The e-mails sent to Mr X date back to 2015, a time when the casino mogul had been canvassing to privatize Crown Resorts. James Packer added that by that time he had been treated for bipolar disorder.
Bipolar Risk to Future Actions Minimized
Asked how the regulator could have confidence in his behavior now, having in mind his past actions, James Packer replied that he was being treated now, implying his condition has improved. Indeed, his mental issues have been well documented in the past, but this was the first time he admitted to having a bipolar diagnosis.
The investigation into Crown’s relations with junkets closely linked to organized crime could not get much material substance as James Packer claimed the medication for his mental health issues impacted his memories, including from the time period when he was the director of Crown Resorts.
Despite, James Packer was asked about his business dealings in 2015, the time when he was looking to privatize Crown, his relationship with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as well as the failed bid by Hong Kong-based Melco Resorts to buy a substantial share of Crown Resorts.
James Packer resigned from Crown Resorts’ director position in 2018, pointing his mental health issues as the reason to withdraw, and almost a year later sold a large portion of his shares in the company, but remained a major stakeholder.
The independent gaming authority is set to continue with its inquiry into Crown Resorts’ license suitability on Wednesday morning.