10/02/2021 - 12:17

Meeting to consider damning Crown report

10/02/2021 - 12:17

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The state government has called an urgent meeting to consider the findings of a damning report in which Crown Resorts is accused of facilitating money laundering at its casinos.

Meeting to consider damning Crown report
Mark McGowan said any decision on the future of Crown Perth's operations would need to take into account its 5,500 WA-based employees. Photo: Attila Csaszar

The state government has called an urgent meeting to consider the findings of a damning report in which Crown Resorts is accused of facilitating money laundering at its casinos.

The report, undertaken by independent Commissioner Patricia Bergin, has accused Crown of laundering money through subsidiaries' bank accounts at its Perth and Melbourne operations.

The state’s Gaming and Wagering Commission was not due to consider the findings until February 23, but that meeting is now set to be brought forward.

The Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries has ordered the state solicitor to assess the report and provide advice before the commission meets to consider the findings.

While stressing that the state would not tolerate unlawful activity and criminality, Premier Mark McGowan said any decision on the continuation of Crown Casino Perth’s operations would need to take into account the fact that the organisation is Western Australia's single-largest private employer - with more than 5,500 local staff.

“This has been an inquiry that has been going on for some time, and mainly into operations in the eastern states, but we know that some evidence that has arisen affects Western Australia,” he said.

“We have been awaiting the outcomes of the judicial inquiry and we have asked the state solicitor to provide urgent advice as soon as possible.

“We have one casino here in WA, so it’s in a privileged position.

“We’ll examine the outcomes before making any further decisions, but I will say this; there are 5,500 thousand people working at the casino and we need to take that into account when making decisions.

“I know that there have been people calling for governments to suspend the casino’s operations, but we need to keep people employed.

“We’ll engage in conversations with other state governments to determine a way forward so that there’s a consistent approach.”

During a press conference this morning, Opposition leader Zak Kirkup distanced himself from the controversy, saying he didn’t believe there should be political interference with an investigation by an independent regulator.

“I understand a report is being considered on February 23rd and I think it is important to wait until that has been considered before making any decisions in the future,” he said.

“I have confidence in our regulators here to do the right thing. 

“I don’t think we should necessarily cast any aspersions over what happens over east and what happens here - that’s something for the regulators to look at.

“I don’t think there should be political interference with an independent regulator.”

New South Wales authorities will now decide whether to cancel Crown's licence to run the Barangaroo casino completely, suspend it, or impose conditions.

It is understood the company’s Perth-based Burswood casino operates on a separate licence.

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