NSW's Crown inquiry to report on probity

Hannah Ryan
·2-min read

A highly anticipated report outlining findings on the fitness of Australian gaming giant Crown Resorts to run a casino in Sydney will be handed to authorities.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority gave commissioner Patricia Bergin until Monday to hand over her findings and recommendations on Crown's suitability to hold a casino licence.

The regulator confirmed on Friday that Ms Bergin will submit her report on Monday.

But it will be a while longer before the public learns of the report's contents and the regulator's response.

The Authority's board will consider the report after receiving it.

Though Authority chair Philip Crawford said on Friday that no release date for the report had been determined, it will be publicly released within the next two weeks.

The report's submission is the culmination of an extraordinary probe that has laid bare the governance problems of one of the country's most high-profile companies.

The inquiry saw the company admit it was more likely than not that money had been laundered through its bank accounts. Crown was accused by lawyers in the inquiry, and earlier in media reports, of turning a blind eye to money laundering.

Evidence was also aired of the company's links with organised crime figures and a high-risk, profit-driven culture.

The inquiry shone a spotlight on a figure who has long been subject to fascination, scrutiny and gossip - billionaire James Packer.

While giving evidence, Mr Packer revealed he had a diagnosis of bipolar disorder, an illness that saw him step down from Crown's board twice.

The troubled heir owned up to "shameful" and "disgraceful" conduct, which he blamed on his poor mental health.

Counsel assisting the inquiry argued that Ms Bergin should find that neither Crown nor Mr Packer are suitable to be close associates of the casino.

If Ms Bergin does find Crown's problems mean it should not run the casino, she must make recommendations for what changes, if any, can render it suitable.

One suggestion already came from Mr Packer, who admitted that Ms Bergin might consider caps on shareholding and therefore force him to part with his shares in Crown. He owns 36.8 per cent of the company.

Another issue was the independence of the board, which includes a number of Packer family associates.

Crown appointed a new director, Nigel Morrison, to the board on Thursday. The company's media release described the appointment as "part of a process of Board renewal".