Barton Resigns as Crown Chief Following Bergin Report

signing a document

The chief executive and managing director of Crown Resorts, Ken Barton, has stepped down following the release of a report into the gambling giant.

ABC News reports that Crown said it was determined to take “significant steps” to improve governance, compliance and culture” when announcing Mr Barton’s resignation.

Helen Coonan will now lead the company as executive chairman, while the board searches for a new chief executive officer.

An investigation commissioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority concluded Crown was unsuitable to operate a licence for its new Sydney casino in its current form.

A report by Commissioner Patricia Bergin found there was likely no future in the company for Mr Barton.

Mr Barton said in a statement he was committed to assisting with a leadership transition.

“I am absolutely certain the business is now on the right path as it works to restore confidence in its operations,” he said.

Mr Barton has spent more than a decade with Crown, initially as its chief financial officer before being appointed as CEO in January 2020 as the Bergin inquiry began.

During his time at Crown he was also the director of two VIP bank accounts at the centre of money laundering allegations.

Commissioner Bergin found Mr Barton was “no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee”.

“His problems will not be cured by the appointment of people expert in the field who report to him,” she said.

Bergin found Mr Barton should have launched a full investigation into money laundering allegations by the time the inquiry began.

Mr Barton was also accused of misleading shareholders at an annual general meeting in 2018 when he said “general” information was being shared between Crown and James Packer’s company Consolidated Press Holdings, when in reality that information was confidential.

“Mr Barton’s conduct at the Annual General Meeting in October 2019 as the CFO of Crown was quite improper,” the report stated.

“However, his attempts in the witness box on September 23, 2020, to justify his conduct were even more inappropriate for the CEO and director of Crown and director of the licensee.

“It demonstrated a serious lack of judgment and insight into the expectation of the highest standards of property, candour and cooperation of a director of a company that holds a casino licence.”

In February, three Crown directors, Andrew Demetriou, Michael Johnston and Guy Jalland also resigned, allowing the company to mount an ambitious reform program, according to Ms Coonan.

Mr Packer’s CPH cut its ties with Crown’s board after terminating its consultancy contract with non-executive board member John Poynton.

Ms Connan last week apologised for the company’s shortcomings and said the criticism by the regulator was warranted.

Crown chairwoman quizzed on money laundering at casino

money counting and laundering

The NSW inquiry into Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold a casino licence in the state has heard Crown chairwoman Helen Coonan conceded the casino giant facilitated money laundering at its Melbourne casino.

The Age reported last October that Ms Coonan blamed the oversight on “ineptitude” rather than the company deliberately “turning a blind eye” to criminals banking their dirty cash with the company.

The comments made in evidence to the inquiry came a day after the financial crimes watchdog, AUSTRAC, said it was formally investigating Crown for potential breaches of anti-money laundering laws.

During her second day of evidence at the inquiry, Ms Coonan was asked about Crown’s relationship with its largest high-roller “junket” tour partner, Suncity, which is run by the alleged former Macau triad member Alvin Chau.

Suncity operated a private gaming room at Crown Melbourne up until late last year when the Macau-based junket shut it down following reports about Mr Chau’s criminal links.

A series of reports by the masthead triggered an inquiry, which will recommend whether Crown should keep the licence for its new Barangaroo casino.

Counsel assisting the inquiry, Naomi Sharp, SC, challenged the former Howard government minister on why Crown did not shut Suncity’s private room even after multiple red flags were raised that indicated money laundering was occurring within the gaming parlour.

William Brown

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