Green Party Call for Crown Melbourne Licence to be Stripped

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Photo by Markus Winkler

The Victorian government’s decision to fast-track an investigation into Crown Melbourne’s licence has been welcomed by the Victorian Greens, who are calling for the casino’s licence to be suspended until the investigation has concluded.

Mirage News reports that in light of the damning evidence that has come out of the NSW inquiry into Crown, including bags of cash under desks, tampering with poker machines and controls and money laundering.

The Greens also want to see an independent investigation into the VCGLR to investigate how it allowed Crown to get away with the outrageous and potentially unlawful conduct uncovered by the inquiry.

Leader of the Victorian Greens, Samantha Ratnam, said that while Crown was a high roller in the gambling industry, that didn’t mean it shouldn’t play by the same rules as everyone else.

She added that the independent investigation into Crown’s licence was long overdue and that sadly it had taken an NSW inquiry to spur our state government to act.

The government announcement follows repeated questioning of the Premier by the Greens in Parliament over nearly two years, on why Crown continues to hold its licence and the efficacy of the regulation.

“The Greens have repeatedly called on the state government to curb Crown’s unacceptable behaviour, but sadly it’s taken an NSW inquiry to spur them to act,” Ms Ratnam said.

“Given the damning evidence, Crown shouldn’t be allowed to retain its Victorian licence while this investigation takes place.”

Class Action Launched against Crown by shareholders

A class-action lawsuit by some of Crown Resorts’ shareholders alleges investors were misled and harmed by the casino’s possible breaches of anti-money laundering laws.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that on October 19, shares in Crown Resorts dropped eight per cent, wiping $500 million off Crown’s market value, when it was revealed that financial crimes watchdog AUSTRAC launched an enforcement investigation into breaches of anti-money laundering laws at its Melbourne casino.

Law firm Maurice Blackburn lodged a claim in the Victorian Supreme Court last Friday, accusing Crown of engaging in misleading or deceptive conduct from December 2014 to October 2020 by telling investors it had “robust” or effective controls in place to ensure compliance with anti-money laundering laws.

The firm also alleges Crown acted contrary to its shareholders’ interests and, in a novel legal approach, will ask the court to consider ordering Crown to buy back shares from affected investors.

Crown declined to comment.

Maurice Blackburn is already pursuing Crown through the Federal Court seeking millions of dollars for shareholders who lost money in a $1.3 billion share price crash after 19 Crown employees were arrested for gambling crimes in China in 2016.

That case is set to go to trial in 2022.

Crown rocked by NSW inquiry

Crown has been rocked by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into the group, which has revealed among other things, a systemic failure to prevent money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth casinos and in patron back accounts.

The lawyer running the case, Maurice Blackburn class actions principal Miranda Nagy, said shareholders would have expected Crown to have best-practice compliance with anti-money laundering regulation, especially since the group claimed publicly to take those obligations seriously.

“Instead it appears Crown’s systems left the company potentially exposed to criminal activity happening on its premises and through its bank accounts,” Ms Nagy said.

“We believe these governance failures have caused real loss to shareholders.”

The class action’s lead plaintiff, Greg Lieberman, said he thought he was buying shares in a responsible and well-governed company, not a ‘cowboy outfit’.

William Brown

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