- »New Whistleblowers May Lead to Crown Royal Commission
New Whistleblowers May Lead to Crown Royal Commission
It has not been a particularly good few months for Crown Resorts.
Several months ago, an investigation led by journalists exposed an extensive history of Crown Resorts’ connections to criminal organizations.
As new whistleblowers now step forward, investigations may be insufficient in light of calls for a royal commission.
Original Six-Month Investigation
The news came from three media trusted media sources. The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, and 60 Minutes revealed the results of their coordinated six-month investigation into Crown Resorts.
A Chinese syndicate known as “The Company” allegedly used Crown hotel rooms and bank accounts to launder money.
Further, Crown’s partnership with junket operators showed links to organizations involved in drug trafficking, human trafficking and money laundering.
And while most Crown employees and executives were likely not directly involved in said criminal activities, there was a concerted effort to overlook it all. The media organizations obtained documents that revealed an “arrogant culture” driven by a “lust for profits,” all of which allowed the activities to continue.
New Allegations, New Source
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, a limousine driver for Crown came forward and approached Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie with alarming allegations. These include drugs, prostitution, violence against women, and other abuses by VIP gamblers at Crown, all of which were ignored by Crown executives.
The whistleblower claimed that VIP gamblers are given anything they want in order to get them to a Crown establishment and keep them there. If they need drugs or sex workers, staff members will make it happen.
“Whatever a VIP asks for,” the driver said, “you’re expected to do it. Legal, illegal, it doesn’t matter. Crown is a law unto itself.” Apparently, the staff understands the meaning of “Crown law” as well.
VIP gamblers from overseas can also fly into the Melbourne airport on private jets. They do this to avoid going through official customs checkpoints.
Even More Whistleblowers
More whistleblowers are known to be Victorian state gambling inspectors. According to The Guardian, they leaked footage from a security camera in the “high roller room” at Crown in Melbourne.
The cameras show a man handling hundreds of thousands of Australian dollars, wrapping it in rubber bands, and then exchanging the bundles for high-value casino chips.
The junket room in question is allocated for Suncity Group, a junket runner that has scaled back operations drastically after being implicated in the initial allegations against Crown.
Calls for Royal Commission
The information provided by the limo driver prompted Wilkie to work with Victorian MP Fiona Patten to push for a royal commission into Crown Resorts.
To garner public support for the royal commission, the MPs plan to release a video of the driver’s claims while preserving the person’s identity. They are also urging other whistleblowers to come forward.
Ultimately, Wilkie and Patten believe that the investigations already underway are taking too long and may be insufficient. They believe the regulators also need to be investigated to ensure they have not ignored allegations. Somehow, however, the reported activities were not researched. That is until the media delivered a scathing report that regulators were unable to ignore.
Wilkie was one of the first to call for public hearings upon the revelation of allegations several months ago. However, there wasn’t enough support to push that idea forward at the time.
Other Investigations Underway
The Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation launched an investigation. This is due to the “well-publicized events regarding Crown’s international commission-based business and its international sales team in China”. There was no immediate revocation of Crown’s license, but its Victoria license will need renewal in the not-so-distant future.
The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia is also conducting a review and examining the status of the gambling license for Crown Perth.
Financial crimes agency Austrac also promised to “actively” address the money laundering concerns through casinos and via junkets.
And finally, the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, under the direction of the Department of Home Affairs, vowed to look into the allegations.
Months later, however, there have been no statements from any of these groups.
Wilkie and Patten said the Home Affairs investigation was a “half-baked” response to the allegations.
“I feel strongly now that this has reached the point of requiring a full royal commission,” Wilkie said. He noted that it would be best to put everything out in the open before Victoria and federal government agencies “become part of the problem.”
Patten feels that the oversight of Crown by the VCGLR has been insufficient thus far. “The Parliament has given huge concessions to the operators of Crown through the Casino Control Act, and in return, we demand they play by the rules – or risk not having a license to operate in Victoria at all,” she said. “It’s that simple.
The two continue to push for a royal commission, a serious and public inquiry.