The New South Wales (NSW) inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license is getting into its final stages and a counsel for Crown told the inquiry executives at the company acted “with bona fides and honesty” when assessing the risk for its employees in China in 2016.
Crown is making its final submissions to the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), before Particia Bergin SC, a former supreme court judge issues a recommendation whether the operator is suitable for a limited high roller gaming license in the NSW or not.
Neil Young QC, a counsel for Crown, stated the casino operator was not given a fair hearing due to new grounds for unsuitability raised late in the submissions, while attempting to table several newly-compiled reports from the company. Young claimed Crown did not have a fair opportunity to address the evidence and submissions until now.
Counsel Assisting: Crown Failed Suitability Test
Counsel assisting submissions asserted Crown failed the suitability test on multiple grounds, yet any deferral regarding the opening of the new casino scheduled for next month was resisted. On Wednesday, there will be another meeting of the inquiry to consider ordering the opening to be postponed.
Regarding the China case, counsel assisting argued that Crown executives failed to see the writing on the wall regarding upcoming crackdown from Chinese authorities, as well as pass the information regarding incidents in China in which two staff members were being questioned and subsequently arrested.
Crown: Chinese Law Misrepresented
Crown’s submission claimed the counsel assisting misrepresented Chinese law and portrayed in the wrong direction evidence about the company’s attempts to comply with it, despite Crown acting on legal advice and on the judgement of its experts on the ground in China.
Further, Crown counsel stated that senior executives made wrong assumptions because of western perspectives and legal advices that China would follow the rule of the law, a mistake they should not be judged severely for.
Warning signs such as the questioning of staff were also misinterpreted with the benefit of hindsight, Young admitted, but argued that Crown’s Australian competitors, Star and Sky City, were also running similar operations by that time in China. According to Crown lawyers, a 2005 Chinese supreme court ruling made the company’s activities in the country legal.
“In our submission the contention that Crown proceeded on fine distinctions is not supported by the evidence. That Crown did not abide by the spirit of the law is also not supported.”
Neil Young QC, Counsel, Crown Resorts
Crown would have the chance to submit further reports for most of the week, which would also feature submissions from the counsel assisting the inquiry regarding money laundering and operations with junkets linked to organized crime. After that, steps for rectification will be addressed, including introducing executive and board changes.