Packer executive ‘didn’t read’ document detailing link to banned Stanley Ho

The chief executive of James Packer’s private company says he did not read a document sent to him which highlighted the fact he was selling a $1.7 billion stake in Crown Resorts to a company whose largest shareholder is banned from investing in the casino group.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry into Crown on Wednesday examined a draft Hong Kong Stock Exchange Release from Melco International announcing that its subsidiary Melco Resorts had purchased the 19.9 per cent stake in Crown on May 30 last year.

Lawrence Ho (left), Stanley Ho (centre) and James Packer at the opening of the Crown-Melco "City of Dreams" casino in Macau in 2006.
Lawrence Ho (left), Stanley Ho (centre) and James Packer at the opening of the Crown-Melco “City of Dreams” casino in Macau in 2006. Credit:AP

The draft, sent to Guy Jalland – a director of Crown Resorts and the CEO of Mr Packer’s private investment vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) – set out details of Melco’s ownership structure. That included that Melco was 20.36 per cent owned by a company called Great Respect Limited, which was “controlled by a discretionary family trust, the beneficiaries of which include [Melco boss Lawrence Ho] and his immediate family members”.

The inquiry has heard that one of those family members was Lawrence Ho’s father Stanley Ho, the Macau casino kingpin who the NSW government explicitly banned Crown from dealing with over long-standing allegations of his involvement with organised crime. The licence for Crown’s new casino at Barangaroo also bans Great Respects and a list of other entities and individuals associated with Stanley Ho, who died in May this year.


Mr Jalland told the inquiry on Wednesday he did not review the document because “I wasn’t asked to”. But he said that even if he had read it, it would not have put him on notice that the transaction might have given Stanley Ho an indirect interest in Crown in breach of its licence.

“I believed that Dr Stanley Ho had no interest in Lawrence’s company,” Mr Jalland said. “There’s no mention of Stanley Ho there.”

Commissioner Patricia Bergin, SC put to Mr Jalland that at the very least reading the document would have alerted him to the fact other members of Mr Ho’s family were possible shareholders.

“And knowing that Stanley was a family member, and indeed the father of Lawrence, you could have – and probably, as a Crown director if you looked, would have – twigged to the need to look to see if Stanley was there?” she said.

Mr Jalland said that he did not see “any real prospect” of Stanley Ho having become involved in Melco since Crown’s Asian joint venture with the group dissolved two years earlier, given Lawrence had gone to pains to stress his independence from his controversial father and their casinos competed in Macau.

However, Commissioner Bergin pressed further and said that it was a matter of logic that when “family member” was referred to, “as night follows day, it could be a father couldn’t it?”

“It could be, yes,” Mr Jalland said.

Mr Jalland had earlier told the inquiry he did not believe he had a conflict of interest in arranging the sale of Mr Packer’s Crown shares while serving as a Crown director because he did not believe the transaction presented any risk to Crown.

The inquiry, which is considering whether Crown should keep the licence to its Sydney casino, will continue hearings on Thursday with Crown director John Poynton and former executive chairman John Alexander due to give evidence.

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