Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton announced his resignation as the company is grappling with the fallout from multiple money laundering allegations. The company was also accused of fostering ties to the mafia and organized crime.
The news came on the heels of a report last week that Crown Resorts was unsuitable to operate the casino portion of its Crown Sydney skyscraper.
Crown Resorts is currently Australia’s largest gaming and entertainment group. The public inquiry was conducted by the New South Wales Gaming and Spirits Authority.
The investigation took a year to complete. Their goal was to find out if Crown Resorts was in a position to receive a license to operate its new Sydney facility. The gaming regulator ordered the investigation due to systematic problems at Crown’s existing casinos in Melbourne and Perth.
The allegations were first raised in 2014. The company recently completed construction work at the Sydney gambling venue, but there is no sign that it will begin operations anytime soon.
Commissioner Bergin’s Recommendations
Commissioner Patricia Bergin, a former Supreme Court Justice, made some recommendations to Crown Resorts in her final report. According to her, the operator needed implement some significant cultural changes to be considered fit in the future.
Along with the money laundering accusations, Bergin accused Crown Resorts of doing business with people linked to the mafia and organized crime.
Bergin also said that Crown Resorts had “poor corporate governance, poor risk management” and “a poor culture.”
As for Barton himself, Bergin called him completely incapable of operating the company as CEO, and said he displayed an “astonishing lack of care” regarding allegations of money laundering at the company.
Bergin’s accusations have yet to be officially adopted by ILGA, but in the meantime, the new A $ 2.2 billion Crown Sydney tower casino facility will not be allowed to operate.
Crown Resorts representatives stated that the company will consider the report carefully and will work with ILGA and the state government to implement the required changes.
Before his resignation, Barton worked at Crown Resorts for more than ten years. His previous position was CFO.
Crown Resorts is majority owned by billionaire James Packer. The current president is Helen Coonan, who responded to the inquiry saying that the company is “taking significant steps to improve in all necessary areas, including its governance, compliance and culture.”
Australia’s leading financial intelligence agency, the Australian Transaction Reporting and Analysis Center, is currently seeking to tackle any illegal activity, including money laundering and organized crime. AUSTRAC has previously urged casinos in the country to do more to combat money laundering and report suspicious activity to the agency.
Source: “Australia: Casino Group CEO Resigns Amid Money Laundering Scandal”, DW, February 15, 2021