WA Gaming Commission Recommends Inquiry into Crown Perth Operations

Crown Sydney

An investigation into Crown Resorts’ Sydney operations has prompted the West Australian gaming regulator to recommend its government does the same.

The ABC reports that the state’s regulator has recommended the government establish an independent inquiry into Crown’s Perth casino licence.

The recommendation was made after an urgent meeting of the Gaming and Wagering Commission that was also attended by WA Police Deputy Commissioner Col Blanch.

It already has the backing of the Gaming Minister.

It comes after last week’s scathing report into the gambling giant, which detailed years of money laundering through Crown Perth and led to the state’s chief casino officer being stood aside over social relationships with staff from Crown Perth’s legal and compliance team.

The meeting on Tuesday evening considered advice from the State Solicitor’s Office as to the findings of the Bergin inquiry in New South Wales.

In a statement issued after the meeting, the GWC said it would seek to launch an independent investigation because it was not able to make findings in relation to Crown Perth on the basis of the NSW investigation.

“The GWC acknowledges the seriousness of the findings and has been working cooperatively with the Bergin Inquiry since it came to light,” it said.

The Commission said it also considered responses to the inquiry by Crown Resorts at the meeting.

Crown to “fully cooperate” with any WA inquiry

Crown Perth Australia

The GWC said it would formally recommend that an independent inquiry be established under the direction of the Minister for Racing, Gaming and Liquor Paul Papalia.

“In recommending that the Minister direct the GWC, it will ensure that the inquiry has the powers of a Royal Commission as opposed to general powers of an investigation by the GWC,” it said.

The Commission also said it would seek to ratify directions at its next meeting that would require the Commission’s approval to open gaming bank accounts and would prohibit “junket operations” at Crown Perth.

“The GWC has confidence that in light of international borders closing due to COVID-19 there were no junkets taking place at Crown Perth from March 2020,” he said.

“The last junket from mainland China to Crown Perth was in November 2016, the last from Hong Kong was August 2019 and the last from Macau was March 2020.
“At the December 2020 GWC meeting, the Commissioners noted Crown’s suspension of junket operations and the closure of the Riverbank account.”

The Bergin inquiry found a shell company called Riverbank had been used to launder hundreds of millions of dollars at Crown Perth from at least 2014.

In a statement, Crown said it would “fully cooperate” with the inquiry and would “continue to engage with the WA Commission in relation to its reform agenda and any further remedial steps identified in response to the NSW ILGA inquiry.”

“Crown is determined to play a constructive role with all of its regulators as it works to restore public and regulatory confidence in its operations,” executive chair Helen Coonan said.

Mr Papalia issued his own statement in response to the GWC, giving the inquiry his full backing.

“I would like to thank the Gaming and Wagering Commission for providing timely advice following its consideration of the Bergin inquiry this afternoon,” he said.

“A formal recommendation from the Commission regarding an inquiry into the issues raised in the Bergin inquiry, specific to Crown Perth operations, will now be finalised.

William Brown

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