Shock resignations of Crown directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston
Shock resignations of Crown directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston

Shock resignations at Packer’s Crown

Shock resignations of two James Packer-backed Crown directors could pave a way for the embattled gaming giant to obtain a casino licence for its $2.2bn Sydney Barangaroo casino by April.

On Wednesday morning following the public release of a damning report into the company, Crown Resorts announced Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston would resign from the board.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority report tabled to state parliament on Tuesday noted corporate "arrogance" was a driving factor in the company turning a blind eye to illegal money laundering within its Melbourne and Perth venues.

ILGA in its findings said the Packer-backed casino was not a suitable licensee holder and its state gaming clearance should be revoked.

Media reports in 2019 alleged Crown facilitated money laundering activities at its Melbourne and Perth casinos through Asian high-roller junkets, sparking questions over whether it was fit to hold a casino licence.

Both directors sat on Mr Packer's private company Consolidated Press Holdings.

In a press conference, ILGA chair Phillip Crawford said the sudden resignation was a "very accepting" sign the influence of Mr Packer and his private company over the board and senior management would be removed.

Sydney's Crown Casino at Barangaroo. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone
Sydney's Crown Casino at Barangaroo. Picture: NCA NewsWire/Flavio Brancaleone

 

The gaming body would begin discussions with Crown through enforceable undertakings to ensure the company could acquire a casino licence by April.

Mr Crawford said ILGA had "contractual obligations" to work with Crown to overcome the issues presented in the inquiry's findings.

He also noted dealings would be conducted through Crown's chair Helen Coonan, who was exonerated of any wrongdoing during the inquiry.

ILGA will also discuss if Mr Packer's current 36 per cent shareholding in Crown is appropriate.

Crown's serious corporate failures included the arrest of employees in China in 2016, "with numerous failures to escalate indicators of real risks to the staff", the report said.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin said in her findings there was "significant deficiency" in Crown's corporate character and a lack of understanding and compliance of the country's anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

ILGA also found numerous governance failings by senior management and the board, including Mr Packer, who ignored criminal risks when trying to get Casino giant Melco to buy part of his stake in Crown.

 

Originally published as Shock resignations at Packer's Crown


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