New Crown CEO working '100 hours per week'

·3-min read

Crown Resorts' new chief executive has told a royal commission that despite working 100 hours a week it is "simply not possible" for one person to transform the company.

Steve McCann, who joined Crown in June, on Tuesday admitted the James Packer-backed group most likely underpaid its gaming tax to the Victorian government.

But he told the inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations he is working more than 14 hours per day as he tries to resurrect the casino giant's reputation.

"It's simply not possible for any one person to achieve that sort of transformation," Mr McCann said.

"I need to surround myself with the best possible people. The journey has well and truly begun ... and I won't tolerate failure."

The inquiry has heard Crown allegedly avoided paying as much as $272 million in gaming tax by claiming as losses promotions handed out through its pokies loyalty program.

But Mr McCann said he believed the sum was closer to $8 million.

Counsel assisting Meg O'Sullivan later asked Mr McCann whether he was surprised or concerned it took a week for him to be informed Crown Melbourne may owe the gaming tax.

"There is a real issue about Crown underpaying tax ... but also about it concealing the underpayment," Ms O'Sullivan said.

"I find that whole scenario concerning ... and I want to know why it doesn't surprise you?"

Mr McCann said the omission was "disappointing" but "accidental".

"It would have been nice to have been told earlier ... but my understanding was that they had provided me all of the material they thought was relevant," the former Lendlease boss said.

Meanwhile, Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said the prospect of Crown Melbourne losing its casino licence is "very real" and that anyone who can't deliver on the highest standards is "out".

"The prospect of Crown losing its licence is very, very real," Mr Andrews told reporters in Geelong.

"If the royal commission sees fit that Crown should not hold a licence, it will not hold a licence. Be in no doubt about that."

Earlier, Commissioner Ray Finkelstein QC turned his blowtorch onto the group's board members as he questioned Crown Melbourne executive Nick Weeks.

He asked: "If there's been extensive misconduct over a period of time in a corporate organisation, not only is the board responsible ... but maybe the cause of the problem?"

Mr Weeks, a former chief operating officer of the National Rugby League who joined Crown as its transformation and regulatory response executive general manager in March, said he would be "hesitant to draw that conclusion".

Commissioner Finkelstein also asked if there could be any confidence in the operation "when the spotlight is turned off".

Mr Weeks said Crown Melbourne now has people who care about their reputation and have a strong ethical grounding.

"I think the company hasn't had that historically but it has it now," he said.

This exchange followed Commissioner Finkelstein telling the inquiry on Monday, as Crown Melbourne chief executive Xavier Walsh gave evidence, that he believed "illegal" and "improper" conduct "permeates the whole organisation".

Mr Walsh revealed he knew the James Packer-backed group may have underpaid more than $200 million in gaming tax for nearly three years, but only looked into it after the royal commission was announced.

Commissioner Finkelstein lashed Mr Walsh for his inaction.

The inquiry was set up by the Andrews Labor government after a NSW inquiry found Crown unsuitable to operate its newly built casino at Barangaroo in Sydney.

It continues on Wednesday.

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