Billionaire James Packer is an unsuitable person to be associated with gaming giant Crown, an inquiry into Barangaroo casino has heard.
In the second day of closing submissions, Adam Bell, the counsel assisting the NSW independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) inquiry into the embattled casino, said Mr Packer should be banned from being involved in Crown Sydney due to prior poor behaviour.
The inquiry is determining whether Crown should keep its gaming licence for Barangaroo after revelations of money laundering through junket operators and risk management failings.
The probe has heard from a slew of Crown executives, Mr Packer himself and associates of the billionaire’s private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH).
Mr Packer and CPH hold a majority share in Crown.
Mr Bell told Commissioner Patricia Bergin an email sent by Mr Packer in 2015 detailing a potential privatisation of Crown showed poor conduct by the casino magnate.
Mr Packer when giving evidence said his conduct was “shameful” and the behaviour was a direct result of a battle to cope with his bipolar disorder.
“We submit that you should recommend to the authority that it reconsiders its approval of Mr Packer as a close associate of the licensee, having regard to his conduct as evidenced in these emails,” Mr Bell told the inquiry.
Mr Bell also argued Crown’s chief executive Ken Barton misled shareholders by keeping special information sharing arrangements with CPH a secret.
It has also been heard that Mr Packer continued to influence company decisions well after stepping down from the Crown board in 2018.
Mr Bell submitted evidence that Mr Packer has been acting as a de facto director and influencing company decisions.
“We submit that the evidence demonstrates that he was a de facto director of Crown Resorts in the period,” Mr Bell said.
The NSW ILGA inquiry is expected to make its decision on whether Crown should retain its Sydney gaming licence in February. The Barangaroo complex is scheduled to open in December.