- »Documents Reveal Crown Worked with AU Government
Documents Reveal Crown Worked with AU Government
Much has been reported about the Crown Resorts scandal that came to light in 2019. The fallout has been severe for the casino giant in the months that followed, and it continued into 2020 with the start of the first of three investigations into numerous allegations.
One of the publications, The Age, that was key in bringing information to light about Crown’s perceived participation in or overlooking of criminal activities to keep high rollers in its casinos, revealed even more this month. The new information pertains to a special arrangement between Crown and the Australian government to get visas to Chinese VIP customers on a fast track.
Crown Visas for High Rollers
The Age revealed the results its latest investigation on February 10. The special arrangement between Crown casinos and the Australian government reportedly allowed the casinos to vouch for people’s character to fast-track their Australian visas.
Freedom-of-information laws allowed The Age to obtain documents that had been withheld from media investigations. Once obtained, they showed that the deal for Crown to push through masses of applications for Chinese nationals through one contact person in the Australian Consulate in Guangzhou.
The goal was for one consulate official to meet with Crown representatives and obtain visas expeditiously for high-stakes gamblers who wanted to travel to Crown.
This had been taking place for 13 years.
Crown’s point of contact at the Australian Consulate in China assisted Crown representatives who claimed they vetted applications for visas. Documents submitted to support the applications had to be vetted for accuracy and validity, and representatives for Crown had to attest that they knew the applicants personally.
The Australian Consulate said that its agreement with Crown was similar to those with other large international organizations regarding short-stay visas. It responded to this inquiry by attesting that all applicants “are subject to the full range of applicable checks.” It went on to say, “All individual visa applications are assessed against legislative requirements. There is no reduced vetting in certain locations or for certain applicants.”
Documents obtained by The Age, however, indicated that Consulate officials often received inaccurate and insufficient information. In addition, Consulate staff lobbied Australian officials to expedite the visa process for hundreds of applicants associated with junket operator SunCity. A 2014 email from then-Crown President of International Marketing Michael Chen referred to conversations with the Consulate about expedited applications for SunCity.
Chen also referenced the “emergency line” to Australian immigration officers that colleagues could use when needing to bypass normal channels to get a VIP client to Crown.
One of those cases was Chen Rongsheng, a high roller whose visa was pushed through despite his criminal conviction for insider trading. But according to Chen, Rongsheng was a “key target patron” that was likely to gamble millions at Crown.
All of this reportedly started in 2003 with discussions “between Ministers’ offices” under the Howard administration and lasted until 2016.
Investigation Inspired by Jenny Jiang
What happened in 2016 was that Chinese officials arrested a group of Crown employees. Jenny Jiang and 18 of her colleagues were held in Chinese custody, then charged and convicted of breaking Chinese laws banning gambling.
Luring Chinese players to Australia to gamble was just that kind of crime.
Those employees were jailed until July 2017.
Last year, Jiang spoke about it all, despite a $60,000 payment offer from Crown not to take the story public. But she told all, claiming that Crown’s offices in China were established in 2010 with lucrative incentives for staff willing to break Chinese laws to send high roller clients to Crown.
Jiang’s information indicated that staff members were awarded commissions when any VIP gambled a certain amount of money at Crown. And according to her, many Crown executives were aware of and sanctioned the process.
Moreover, government officials helped with the visa process because of the revenue from Crown that resulted in those VIP gambling visits.
Jiang asserted that Crown disregarded Chinese laws and the welfare of its employees based in China just to secure visas for high rollers to get to Crown to gamble millions of dollars. And she said she helped this entire operation as a part of her job between 2011 and 2017.
Further, she claimed that when she and others indicated that Chinese authorities were investigating and moving in on the operation, Crown told its staff in China to continue business as usual but “under the radar” to avoid leaving evidence or giving police any more ammunition. They were also told to tell the authorities they did not work for Crown.
Her revelations prompted The Age to request more documents under freedom-of-information laws, which led to the latest report containing discoveries that backed up Jiang’s statements and previous reporting about Crown’s actions.