Crown Melbourne is subject to an AUD$5 million royal commission following a recent scandal involving Crown Resorts and organized crime.
Money Laundering and Organized Crime
The Victoria government has announced the launch of an investigation into casino operator Crown Resorts‘ flagship property in Melbourne to decide whether it is a suitable license holder in the state. This decision was taken following a recent scandal resulting in Crown’s license being revoked in New South Wales after links between the group and organized crime and money laundering were found.
A Royal Commission estimated at AUD$5 million will consider whether Crown Melbourne can keep its casino license in Victoria, State Premier Daniel Andrews declared on Monday, as well as the suitability of its partners, including parent company Crown Resorts.
The local authorities noted they have taken the advice to respond appropriately to the “serious findings of the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) inquiry”, sparked by a 2019 investigation of The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald, and 60 Minutes. The ILGA’s inquiry had led to the resignation of Ken Barton, Crown Resorts’ Chief Executive Officer, in early February.
AUD$5 Million Royal Commission
The Royal Commission will be led by Raymond Finkelstein QC, who will serve as Commissioner and Chairperson. Finkelstein worked at the Victorian bar for over 40 years, and was appointed as a Federal Court judge in 1997, the government’s statement stated. The Royal Commission has until August 1st to hand down its recommendations.
The authorities also announced that they will allow the Victorian Gaming and Liquor Regulation Commission (VCGLR) “to give effect to any findings of the Royal Commission” later this year. They also said that the establishment of an independent gambling regulator is in the works and that the “Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Melissa Horne has commissioned a review to advise on the necessary structural and governance arrangements”.
Australian Governments Announce Further Inquiries
Crown was ruled unfit to hold a license for its brand new Barangaroo casino resort in Sydney and faces another inquiry into its Perth casino’s operations.
The New South Wales government declared that the operator’s “corporate arrogance” led to its dismissal of serious red flags raised against the business. The inquiry was initiated when Melco, the leading Asian gaming group, decided to buy a 19.99% stake, worth AUD$1.76 billion, in CPH Crown Holdings in May 2019. As various allegations had been mentioned in the media, the local authorities decided to check whether Crown was a suitable license-holder. Melco dropped its plans but the inquiry kept going and its results were revealed at the beginning of this month.
Crown’s Executive Chairman Helen Coonan said that the operator “welcomes the announcement” of the Victoria government and that it will “fully cooperate with the Royal Commission”.