According to Blomberg.com, it seems the ongoing probe of Crown Resort Ltd.’s activity has revealed some lack of transparency in their operations. However, the investigation is billed to continue with the evidence of notable members of the company.
Kenneth Barton, the CEO of Crown Resort, testified on Wednesday at the court hearing. His evidence was quite revealing. No wonder the press got the impression that the company’s operation seems not to be transparent. Barton’s evidence seems he was not aware of the operations of the company’s specific accounts. More so, the said accounts were allegedly used for money laundering.
The question now is if he is not aware of such dealings, who then should know?
Court Hearing Proceedings of the Crown Resort Ltd Casino-Worthiness Probe
The Crown probe resulted from media reports that the criminal gangs were laundering money at the casino. Some junkets with links to drug traffickers laundered money at the casino slots for money.
Therefore, Wednesday’s court hearing was important to the probe. Kenneth Barton, CEO of the company, gave evidence on Wednesday. According to his evidence, the company was yet to have a detailed report of the specific accounts allegedly used for money laundering. Barton also stated that since he became the CEO, he was not aware of such operations. Meanwhile, it is also alleged that one of their top junket operators has a cash desk at their flagship Melbourne casino.
Barton accepted that such activity possessed a money laundering risk. Upon court hearing Barton’s evidence, Patricia Bergin stated that there was a need for more transparency. The retired judge further added that the whole revealing had reached a debacle level and very troubling.
Patricia Bergin is overseeing the probe. She is a retired Supreme Court judge. Her role is to determine whether the Crown can keep its license to develop a resort in Sydney or not. Consequently, the resort in Sydney is expected to be launched before the end of this year.
The Billionaires Evidence – Expectations
James Packer’s testimony at the court hearing will make a real difference. Packer is an Australian billionaire with a huge stake at the Crown Resort Ltd. Also, he is the major financier of the Sydney harbourside gaming development.
Before now, Packer had sold more than half of his stake in the Crown Resort Ltd. The sold shares were estimated at the US $1.75 billion. These issues and some others are likely to be raised at the panel.
Meanwhile, during Barton’s evidence on Wednesday, it also heard that Barton didn’t furnish a shareholder with details of his communications with Packer at their annual meeting in 2019. In her reaction to this, Bergin said Barton would have replied that he had constant communication with Packer instead of withholding such information. In his response, Barton agreed that such an answer would have sufficed.
The Facts about the Sydney Harborside Gaming Development Project
- Cost of Project: The entire project is estimated to cost about AU$ 2.2 billion (US$1.5 billion).
- Packer’s Involvement: The billionaire has championed this project since it started about ten years ago. He has invested more than 50 percent of the total cost of developing the project since its commencement.
- Facilities at the Project upon Completion: The Sydney harborside gaming development is expected to have a 350 room hotel, 66 residential apartments. A 71 story tower will be built at the location. And a 65,498 square foot gaming facility is billed to be part of the project.
Consequently, upon completion, this project would make Packer, Crown, and other shareholders richer. With facilities, this project may become the biggest casino resort in Australia. More so, the location is appealing and beautiful.
Would Crown Survive this Alleged “Media Campaign” Against their Reputation?
Initially, when the media report about money laundering and other illegal operations were reported, the Crown called it a “deceitful campaign”. They stated that the said report was geared towards damaging their reputation.
Although the probe is still ongoing, most industry watchers believe that there is more to come after Barton’s testimony on Wednesday. To some, the probe is yet to get interesting since Packer is billed to testify next week.
Besides, Crown had earlier promised to work with regulators on any recommendation and also redeem their reputation. Don’t forget that the probe is presided by a renowned retired Supreme Court judge. So it is very unlikely that this probe will be used as a media trial to mare Crown’s reputation.
Final Outcome of the Court Hearing
Finally, it will be unfair to assume that wronging dealings are happening in Crown Resort. Let’s wait and see what the outcome of this probe would be. Meanwhile, issues like these are the reason most investors are going for online casinos in SA or worldwide. Setting up online casinos is less stressful than the rigid conditions you have to go through to build a land-based casino.