- »WA Royal Commission into Crown Commences
WA Royal Commission into Crown Commences
The West Australian Royal Commission into Crown Resorts’ Perth operations got underway on Monday.
Asgam reports the royal commission will work with a mandate to explore the company’s suitability to hold a casino gaming licence for Crown Perth and the adequacy of the state’s regulatory framework.
The royal commission is in response to New South Wales’ Bergin Report, which recommended Crown Resorts be deemed unsuitable to hold a licence for the casino at Crown Sydney, due to money laundering and organised crime links.
The report was released on February 9 and New South Wales’ gaming regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, subsequently concurred with the report’s recommendation and found Crown unsuitable, less than a week after the report was made public.
According to the terms of reference, the WA royal commission will be required to inquire and report on the suitability of Crown Resorts and its local subsidiaries to continue to hold a licence for Crown Perth and if found unsuitable, what actions would be required to render them suitable.
It will also be required to look at whether or not the current regulatory framework is adequately prepared to “address extant and emerging strategic risks identified in the Bergin Report, or otherwise by this inquiry, including in relation to junket operations, money laundering, cash and electronic transactions and the risk of infiltration by criminal elements into casino operations.”
However, unlike Victoria’s royal commission, which has been directed not to rely too heavily on the findings of the Bergin report, the WA commissioner is “not required to inquiry, or to continue to inquire, into a particular matter to the extent that you are satisfied that the matter has been, or will be sufficiently and appropriately dealt with by another inquiry or investigation.”
A deadline of June 30, 2021 is provided for submission of an interim report and November 14, 2021 for a final report with recommendations.
WA pursues royal commission into Crown
A government investigation in Western Australia into casino operator Crown Resorts has been upgraded from an inquiry into a royal commission.
Channel News Asia reported in March that the state government felt it needed to take the measure to ensure there were sufficient legal protections to investigate the casino operator.
The move means the company, one-third owned by billionaire James Packer, will face royal commissions in two Australian states simultaneously, just as it seeks to rebuild its management following a separate inquiry that saw its chief executive officer and a host of directors leave in the past month.
An inquiry into Crown’s plans to open a new casino in Sydney found it was unfit to hold a gambling licence due to allegations it dealt with junket tour operators linked to organised crime, failed to protect a dozen and a half staff jailed in China for breaking the country’s anti-gambling laws and had “dysfunctional” leadership dominated by Packer.
The states where Crown already has casinos quickly announced their own inquiries, with Victoria choosing a royal commission and WA picking a less powerful independent probe.
Before the upgrade to a royal commission, the WA inquiry had the powers of a royal commission, but the commissioner did “not have the immunities and protections afforded by the Royal Commissions Act”, the state’s Attorney General John Quigley said.
Royal commissions are Australia’s most powerful type of inquiry where investigators can compel witnesses to testify.
They typically end with a report that includes formal recommendations, which may include recommendations for referrals to law enforcement agencies.
Mr Quigley said the WA royal commission would be required to deliver its final report by November 14, making it longer than the Victorian inquiry, which runs to August.