Crown casino 'arrogant', inquiry hears

Ethan James
·2-min read

Crown Resorts was arrogant towards regulatory compliance and didn't properly act on money laundering red flags, an inquiry into the company suitability to run a new $2.2 billion Sydney casino has heard.

The Barangaroo premises, slated to open in mid December, is under a massive cloud amid the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority probe.

The regulator is reportedly set to meet with Crown on November 18 to discuss whether to push back, or put conditions on, the casino's opening.

Lawyers assisting the inquiry have argued Crown is not fit to hold the Barangaroo licence due to its poor culture, lack of risk management procedures and links to dodgy junket operators.

In concluding her final submissions on Monday, counsel assisting Naomi Sharp said evidence across the hearings had shown Crown had an "arrogant indifference" to regulatory compliance.

"(There is a) culture of denial and an unwillingness to examine past failings. And ... a culture which has prioritised the pursuit of profit above all else," she said.

Counsel assisting Scott Aspinall said transactions uncovered during the hearings showed Crown was either ignorant or apathetic about the money laundering risks involving two subsidiary companies.

"It's open for you to find that money laundering did occur," he told inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin.

He said money was moved through companies Southbank and Riverbank from 2014-17 by "smurfing", a process of splitting up money in smaller deposits to avoid detection.

There were also examples cash was deposited anonymously to those companies, he said.

ANZ in 2014 raised "red flags" with Crown about Southbank and Riverbank and eventually shut down their accounts with the bank.

Mr Aspinall said Crown failed to properly investigate why, and the problems persisted for years.

The lawyer representing Crown, Neil Young, is set to address the allegations in his closing submissions on November 16.

Mr Young said CCTV vision aired at the inquiry showing a bag full of cash being unloaded at one of Crown's high-roller rooms in Melbourne was not definitive proof of money laundering.

But he did concede it amounted to a "suspicious matter".

"We will also explain in our submissions that Crown has taken steps to prevent such events ever recurring," he said.

Many of Crown's cultural problems stem from the "dubious tone" set by former executive chairman and major shareholder, James Packer, the inquiry has previously heard.

Lawyers representing Mr Packer's company Consolidated Press Holdings, which holds a 36.8 per cent stake in Crown, will address the inquiry on Wednesday.

Commissioner Bergin, who is expected to produce a final report by February, may recommend the licence agreement for the new casino be terminated, suspended, or have new conditions added.