- »Crown Casino Reels From 60 Minutes and SMH Exposé
Crown Casino Reels From 60 Minutes and SMH Exposé
Three weeks after the scandal was revealed, Crown Casino continues to reel from the allegations of participation – unknowingly or otherwise – in sex trafficking, money laundering, and other connections to Chinese syndicate members.
The six-month investigation was a coordinated effort by 60 Minutes, the Sydney Morning Herald, and the Age. And it revealed the involvement of Crown Resorts in a criminal syndicate out of China. There are Crown Casinos located in Melbourne and Perth.
The syndicate is known as “The Company”. The investigation points to Crown hotel rooms and bank accounts used regularly by members of the syndicate to launder money.
Further, its use of junkets, which were in violation of Chinese laws, put Crown in partnership with junket operators that had strong links to drug and human trafficking rings, money laundering, and even people referred to as Chinese government influence agents.
By obtaining tens of thousands of documents from inside Crown’s headquarters, the reporting trio revealed that an “arrogant culture” driven by a “lust for profits” allowed and even encouraged executives to overlook criminal ties with the Chinese underworld.
Junkets have been popular with casino operators from Macau to the Philippines and Australia for years as a way to recruit and deliver high-stakes gamblers to their properties. Junket operators arrange transportation and casino credit. Those gamblers are wined and dined in the hopes of obtaining their future business.
However, by offering credit, junket operators sometimes become loan sharks, having to track down those gamblers later for payment. And junkets have not only become vehicles for criminal activities like drug trafficking and money laundering, the junket operators sometimes fall under the control of Asia-based crime syndicates.
The Company ran some of those junkets, overseen by triad bosses and used to run drugs. One of the junket’s representatives, Roy Moo, told investigators that he was hired “because of his contacts at Crown Casino”. He was also allegedly hired to launder money through the casino because it was “easier than using a bank.”
In 2016 alone, another junket representative for the Company was paid $250K in 2016 alone for delivering high-stakes gamblers to Crown. Another junket flew members of the Company to Crown Perth to launder $800K during one trip.
At least three junkets licensed by Crown have been connected to the Company and its members.
Connections to 2016 Arrests in China
Instances like the ones mentioned above were the basis for the arrests of Crown employees in China in 2016, who were jailed for weeks before their release under international scrutiny.
But one of those arrested, Jenny Jiang, opened up about her employment by Crown. She admits that Crown gave some employees significant incentives to bring high rollers of any kind to the casinos. Some were even directed to assist the biggest gamblers to secure immigration to and property investments in Australia. But when employees were caught in China, she claimed that they were mostly disregarded by the casino company.
One of the people working with Crown to bring high-stakes gamblers to the casinos was Simon Pan, a person well-known in South Melbourne for owning a brothel called 39 Tope. The oft-raided establishment has long been the target of investigations for sex trafficking. Many workers have been prosecuted for prostitution over the years.
The recent investigation into Crown revealed that Pan was a “junket representative” for Crown. This was through the Kim Teng Jong junket out of Macau. Documents showed that Pan “arranges people to gamble at a casino” for a commission. Crown also reportedly gave Pan access to its properties and banking systems.
While workers at 39 Tope have been previously connected to and prosecuted for connections to organized crime operations, Pan has yet to be charged. However, he is widely believed to be involved in trafficking sex workers and intimidating them not to testify. This is along with potential laundering money through the gamblers he has delivered to Crown.
Crown Issues Vague Statements
Repeatedly through the years, Crown has issued statements saying it does not comment on business operations with “particular individuals or businesses” when questioned about junkets.
However, Crown did recently say that it maintains a strict “anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing program”. This is overseen by Australian regulators.
Stakeholder James Packer also assumed complete innocence of the recent charges pertaining to junkets. He “adamantly” insisted that he had no idea of the goings-on in China. This is similar to the generic statement issued at the time of the Crown employees’ arrests several years ago. Packer said he was “deeply concerned” about the workers.
Packer recently offloaded half of his stake in Crown to Lawrence Ho in a $1.76 billion deal with Melco Resorts & Entertainment, a deal overshadowed by suspicions that Ho’s father, Stanley Ho, has long been involved with organized crime.