Australian billionaire James Packer has admitted giving instructions to Crown board members despite resigning from the casino giant months earlier.
Mr Packer stepped down from his role of Crown director in 2018, but despite selling a large portion of his shares, remains a major stakeholder.
He faced questions this week at the inquiry into Crown, including examinations into the amount of influence he held over the company after his resignation. The inquiry was shown emails from Mr Packer to Crown executives about proposals to sell parts of the company, reviewing annual figures and cost-cutting measures.
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) is examining if Crown is fit to hold the licence for Sydney’s new casino, which is set to open at the end of the year at Barangaroo.
ILGA is also investigating separate claims Crown was turning a blind eye to money laundering through high-roller VIPs who were being flown in to play at its Australian casinos.
In October 2016, 19 Crown employees were arrested by officials in China, in a crackdown that had been widely canvassed in Chinese media earlier in the year. Mr Packer also told the inquiry he was not aware Crown staff in China were living in fear while working unlicensed, before their arrests in 2016, when he was chairman. Mr Packer told the inquiry he felt let down by senior staff because he was not informed of the risks employees in China were facing.
The inquiry was told of an email between Crown’s former head of international marketing and another executive in 2013, stating staff were “living in constant fear”.
“This is one thing that is important to understand when it comes to the China team, they are living in constant fear of getting tapped on the shoulder,” said the email.
“In a country where due process is inconsistently applied, it is a risky place to be for all our team.”
Mr Bell questioned Mr Packer about his knowledge of concerns raised by staff.
“Do you agree that it is completely unacceptable for staff of a publicly listed Australian company to be expressing fears for their safety in carrying out the work they’ve been hired to undertake?” he asked.
“Yes I do,” he answered.
The inquiry has previously been told Crown’s staff in China were working in unmarked residential apartments as they helped to source potential VIP clients and organise their visas to visit Australia to gamble.