James Packer Acknowledges Crown Resorts’ Governance Made a Lot of Mistakes Throughout the Years

Olivia Cole

Earlier today, the Australian billionaire James Packer said the casino company he once established, Crown Resorts, has made many mistakes on the way. Mr Packer also acknowledged the failure of the operating licence requirements of one of the company’s casino resorts by missing four years of board meetings.

As Casino Guardian previously reported, James Packer quit all corporate roles in Casino Resorts back in 2018 but had been setting the company’s strategy for more than 10 years as the biggest shareholder and executive chairman of the Australian gambling giant. His evidence at the Western Australia Royal Commission as part of the ongoing investigation of Crown Perth on October 29th was his first public appearance in a year.

Like similar inquiries into the casino operator’s resort in Sydney in Melbourne, today’s hearing was about the way its Perth casino handled money-laundering risks. Currently, the venue accounts for about 25% of Crown Resorts’ overall profit.

When appearing at the heading via video connection, Mr Packer acknowledged that he should have done many things differently at the time he led the gambling operator. He further noted that before the investigations started, no directors of Crown Resorts had any experience in money laundering prevention. Mr Packer, however, said that he had not believed at that point in time that the Perth casino venue of the company had been engaged in money laundering activities.

Several Investigations Faced by Crown Resorts in Its Operations Across the Country

While giving testimony at today’s hearing, James Packer noted that he left Australia in 2013, so he never appeared at Crown Perth’s board meetings that took place in the period between 2013 and 2016, although he was the subsidiary’s chairman at the time. He said that he should have attended those meetings or resigned from his position.

Mr Packer also accepted that his non-attendance of the board’s meetings was not consistent with the licence requirements of Crown Resorts, as suggested by the commissioner running the inquiry. He also agreed that the deterioration of the gambling company’s culture could potentially have been related to his absence.

For the time being, Mr Packer still owns a 37% stake in Crown Resorts.

Crown Resorts saw a number of investigations start following some media reports accusing the company of making it easy for organised crime to penetrate its casinos across the country. Several local media outlets accused the gambling company of also turning a blind eye to the safety of its 19 employees who got arrested in China in 2016 for breaching the anti-gambling legislation of the country.

As part of the probe faced by the Australian gambling giant in Sydney, the Barangaroo casino licence of Crown Resorts was ultimately frozen, as the company had been found unfit to keep its operating permit. Another probe, which took place in the state of Victoria, allowed the company to keep its Crown Melbourne licence and gave the operator a 2-year grace period to improve its “disgraceful” wrongdoings under the oversight of a special manager.

Since the beginning of the investigations into the company, James Packer’s associates have been withdrawn from the Crown Resorts’ board of directors to prevent a perception they may interfere in the process. Some of the top executives of the company, including its chief executive officer, chairman and the majority of directors and managers have also been replaced over the past year.

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole

Olivia Cole has worked as a journalist for several years now. Over the last couple of years she has been engaged in writing about a number of industries and has developed an interest for the gambling market in the UK.

Daniel Williams
Author: Wanda Peters