Crown Casino Scandal Shaking the Gambling Industry Core of the Land Down Under
July 30th, 2019 3.00pm
A major corporate scandal has been revealed regarding Australia’s largest casino operator, Crown Casino, prompting an internal investigation into allegations of unlawful activities and violations of Chinese gambling laws.
The recent affair concerning the integrity of Crown Casino has started an avalanche of controversy across international media, after the joint investigation by the Australian 60 Minutes, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald. The findings have shocked the nation, exposing a ring of money-laundering, sex trafficking, narcotics, and close ties to organized crime via junkets arranged with the sole purpose of luring wealthy Chinese gamblers.
The trail of corruption leads all the way to the Federal Government of Australia, whose members were allegedly involved in fast-tracking the visa applications submitted by the Chinese residents. With money to burn and no legal impediments standing in their way (gambling is illegal in the Middle Kingdom, with the exception of Macau), the privileged members of Chinese society have been swarming around Crown Casino for years, attracted by the series of promotional events. The arrangement was further facilitated by the orders to fast forward all relevant visa applications – a practice that has, consequentially, given a secure passage to a number of criminal organizations looking for an easy way to launder money.
In addition to the accusations mentioned above, there are strong indications that Crown also laundered vast sums of money using the operator’s Melbourne venue – an allegation that the company categorically denies.
The former minister for gaming, Tony Robinson, stated that the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation should invest more resources in supervising the Melbourne casino, to avoid a potential “damage to the state’s reputation”.
“The regulator has for too long not applied the powers it has to scrutinise Crown adequately, and it’s, therefore, no surprise to see these sorts of stories emerging”, said Robinson, underlining that it is the regulatory failure which triggers the rise of criminal enterprises.
The Sinking Ship
Attorney-General Christian Porter, who has referred the accusations against Crown Casino to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, stated that the Government will pursue the matter relentlessly.
In the meantime, James Packer, Australian billionaire and investor, has seemingly decided to distance himself from Crown, which was once his pride and joy. He sold almost 50% of the stake, cashing out some $1.76 billion and stirring additional rumours about his involvement in the scheme. Consolidated Press Holdings, Packer’s investment company, has confirmed the sale back in May when Melco Resorts and Entertainment purchased the shares.
It was even speculated that Packer received a warning through his contacts in China, who tipped him about the Chinese government’s efforts to clamp down on illegal gambling organizations – a mission that would inevitably expose a direct trail to any foreign associates. Shortly after the intel was received, the Crown staff was instructed to avoid any form of electronic communication channels, however, 19 employees of Crown Casino have been detained.
The Crown shares have already dropped, which sheds new light to Packer’s decision to relinquish his role as the largest shareholder a few months back.
More loose threads could be unravelled sooner than expected as Greens Senator Nick McKim is requesting protection for Roman Quaedvlieg, former Head of Australian Border Force. In exchange, Quaedvlieg must name the two ministers and the MP who were vital in pushing forward the visa applications.
Quaedvlieg has already told 60 Minutes that the unnamed ministers complained about the lack of “facilitated service” for Crown’s VIP jets entering Australia.
The short-stay arrangements have been conducted from 2003 and the operation lasted for the next 13 years, ending in 2016.