- Inquiry is investigating probity issues at casino giant Crown Resorts
- Commissioner Patricia Bergin will report on whether Crown is fit to keep the licence for its new casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo
- James Packer, who owns 36 per cent of Crown, admitted he sent “shameful” and “disgraceful” emails threatening a businessman looking to make a privatisation offer for the casino group
- Other issues raised at the inquiry include Crown going into business with figures linked organised crime, money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth casinos, and the arrest of 19 staff in China in 2016
Here’s some analysis from a few of our top writers on what happened yesterday.
Sarah Danckert writes that Packer’s admissions about his conduct that could haunt him for a long time and put Crown’s NSW licence at risk.
With Mr Packer in the witness box for only two hours on Tuesday the inquiry has only started digging into Crown’s activities in China, including the infamous staff arrests in 2016.
It has also not touched on allegations about the ASX-listed company’s unusual disclosure practices that appear to favour its largest shareholder over all others.
With that likely to be examined at length on Wednesday, it’s a good bet there will be more bombshells to come.
Business columnist Elizabeth Knight says that while the inquiry up to now has been focused on Crown’s suitability to hold a casino licence, when James Packer entered the box it became personal.
For Packer, as the majority shareholder in Crown, its former executive chairman and the man who counsel assisting has, effectively, accused of operating as a shadow director, the inquiry is attempting to establish whether he is suitable to be associated with the casino group.
And the SMH’s Private Sydney columnist Andrew Hornery reckons that Packer put on his best poker face.
A slightly sweaty upper lip was the only clue as to the possible emotions swirling through casino mogul James Packer’s mind as he was grilled during Tuesday’s NSW casino inquiry which veered into some of the most sensitive areas of his private and public lives.
Yesterday afternoon, counsel assisting the inquiry Adam Bell, SC, started taking Packer into Crown’s operations in China leading up to the arrest of 19 Crown staff there in 2016. They spent up to 10 months in jail for illegally promoting gambling.
It was a huge scandal and the inquiry has spent a lot of time investigating just what Crown’s senior executives and directors knew about the legality of its operations there and the risks it was taking.
While Packer had stood down from Crown’s board at the time of the arrests, he was its executive chairman from July 2007 to August 2015, and remained a director until December 2015, so was closely involved with the strategy to aggressively lure Chinese high-rollers to its Australian casinos.
Expect the inquiry to dig deeper into that today.
Good morning, and welcome to our live blog of the second day of James Packer’s appearance at the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s public inquiry into Crown Resorts.
Yesterday’s evidence was explosive and totally unexpected. The inquiry revealed that in 2015 Packer sent threatening emails to a private equity manager during talks to privatise Crown.
Under questioning Packer agreed the emails were “shameful” and “disgraceful”. And he agreed with Commissioner Patricia Bergin that it was ‘totally unsuitable for a director of a public company, as a close associate of a licensee of a casino”.
Source: Thanks smh.com