SYDNEY, Nov 6 (Reuters) - Casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd
has been accused at an Australian regulatory inquiry of
having a "culture of denial and arrogant indifference to
compliance" in its dealings with junket operators.
In a third day of summation arguments, one of the lawyers
running the inquiry said on Friday that Crown had ignored
warning signs and breached an obligation to deal with people "of
The culture of denial and indifference permeated the
organisation, said lawyer Nicole Sharp, adding that Crown's
founder and 36% shareholder James Packer had "set a dubious tone
from the top".
She said Crown had kept a room in its Melbourne casino for
clients of a junket operator even after law enforcement agencies
wrote to the company warning of the operator's suspected
criminal past overseas.
The inquiry is widely expected to result in regulatory
action against Packer and Crown, which has two casinos and is
banking its growth on a new 75-floor complex in Sydney that
opens in December.
Another lawyer running the inquiry on Thursday raised the
prospect that the Crown's casino licence could be suspended or
Crown has previously argued it has improved vetting of
junket operators and in August said it had suspended all junket
relationships until mid-2021. Packer, testifying at the inquiry,
has acknowledged a strong influence over the company and
suggested a cap on his ownership as a condition for Crown to
keep its licence.
The retired judge overseeing the hearings, Patricia Bergin,
on Friday called the suspension of junkets "cynical" since
Australia's borders are closed due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bergin is due to give formal recommendations by February.
Australia's financial crime agency has also begun
investigating Crown on suspicion of failure to comply with anti
money-laundering protocols, while the country's corporate
regulator has also said it might open its own probe.
A video purporting to show moneylaundering activities at
Crown's Melbourne casino that was released publicly last year by
an independent member of parliament was replayed at the inquiry
Another lawyer running the inquiry, Scott Aspinall, said the
footage could not give the regulator overseeing the Sydney
casino "any confidence that Crown Resorts has the ability to
operate suitably, with sufficient resistence to exploitation
from money laundering".
A Crown spokesperson declined to comment, citing respect for
the inquiry. When the footage was first released, the company
denied that it showed money laundering. The hearing resumes on
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)