Crown Casino has moved to defend itself as it faces further probes by regulators, the threat of a political inquiry and a hit to its share price.
It follows days of allegations levelled against the company and reports linking the casino chain to organised crime.
It is a messy web of allegations, denials and government inquiries.
Here’s our primer on the scandal so far, and what it could all mean going forward.
What is it alleged Crown did?
An investigation by Nine’s The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and 60 Minutes — which it said was based on tens of thousands of leaked internal Crown documents — alleged the casino was not doing its due diligence to ensure there are no links between junket operators and organised crime.
It alleged junket operators lured gambling whales from mainland China, where gambling is banned.
It also alleged that Crown Casino turned a “blind eye” to money laundering and that the company exploited weaknesses in Australia’s visa system, to fly in Chinese high rollers without appropriate vetting.
The investigation featured the former Australian Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg, who told 60 Minutes two government ministers complained to him that Crown’s VIP jets “weren’t receiving a facilitated service for private jets coming into Australia”.
What has Crown said?
Crown Casino has denied the allegations, taking out newspaper advertisements headed “setting the record straight in the face of a deceitful campaign against Crown”.
In an advertising blitz on Thursday, the company said Crown’s board was “extremely concerned” for its staff, shareholders and other stakeholders.
The Crown advertisement accuses Nine of unfairly attempting to damage its reputation.
Crown said it had “a comprehensive anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program which is subject to ongoing regulatory supervision by [the national anti-money laundering agency] AUSTRAC” and that “Crown itself has a robust process for vetting junket operators, including a combination of probity, integrity and police checks”.
The company also pointed out that the junkets are not Crown’s.
“They are independent operators who arrange for their customers to visit many casinos globally. Crown deals with junkets and their customers in essentially the same way as other international casinos,” Crown said.
“Crown takes its regulatory obligations very seriously, and works closely with all of its regulatory agencies, including state and federal law enforcement bodies.”
Has the Government responded?
When the allegations first aired, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said they were a matter for law enforcement, not the Government.
But since then, Attorney-General Christian Porter said there were sufficient concerns raised to at least warrant further investigation.
He has referred the allegations raised by Nine to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.
Mr Porter said the commission was the most appropriate body to consider the allegations and had the ability to “hold hearings, exercise coercive powers and seize evidence”.
“They have very significant investigatory powers, very significantly stronger than those of a parliamentary committee, obviously including the ability to apply for search warrants, issue notices that attract a criminal penalty, if not complied with.”
Crossbench MP Andrew Wilkie tried to push for a parliamentary inquiry but didn’t have the numbers because Labor and the Coalition voted against it. But it was supported by Senator Jacqui Lambie and the Greens.
Mr Wilkie had wanted the inquiry to not only investigate the most recent public allegations involving Crown Casino, but a series of previous allegations.
Mr Wilkie’s motion in Parliament on Tuesday called for the inquiry to examine “accusations of Crown Casino’s links to organised crime, money laundering, improper activity by consular officials, tampering with poker machines, and domestic violence and drug trafficking on Crown property”.
What could this mean for Crown?
There could be a number of mechanisms used to investigate Crown and other Australian casinos.
On Wednesday, Nine reported that the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission (ACIC) would conduct a special investigation into organised crime in Australian casinos.
A commission spokeswoman told the ABC the Targeting Criminal Wealth Special Investigation was “not a new investigation, but an existing one”.
“[It] aims to disrupt and deter criminal groups by collecting evidence and intelligence about financially motivated crime,” the spokeswoman said.
The investigation could also look at Australia’s other main casino operator, Star Entertainment, which owns casinos in Sydney, Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
Other regulators could also launch new probes.
Experts have also called on AUSTRAC to investigate allegations that proceeds of crime have been laundered through Crown Casino.
For the full story click here >>> https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-08-02/crown-casino-saga-explained/11375114
Source: By business reporter Nassim Khadem: