Crown Resorts’ lawyers are set to address a Hong Kong firm’s short-lived buy-in to the company as they fight to persuade the NSW gaming regulator it is fit to run a new casino in Sydney.
After months of damning testimony, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold the Barangaroo casino licence is in its final week of hearings.
The inquiry was partly brought about because of an agreement by James Packer’s private company to sell 19.99 per cent of Crown stock to Melco Resorts, which is owned by businessman Lawrence Ho.
The regulator had banned Crown from letting Mr Ho’s father, Stanley, acquire an interest because of his underworld links.
Counsel assisting the inquiry has recommended findings that Crown and Mr Packer are not presently fit to be associated with the new casino.
Crown on Tuesday announced it would permanently cease dealing with all junket operators, subject to consultation with gaming regulators in Victoria, Western Australia and NSW.
Crown said it would only recommence dealing with a junket operator if it was licensed or otherwise approved or sanctioned by all gaming regulators in states where the company operates.
Crown Resorts lawyer Perry Herzfeld SC said the company’s suspension of all dealings with junket operators should not be treated as an admission its due diligence processes were “not robust”.
“A system can be described as robust even though an error has occurred,” Mr Herzfeld said.
He also rejected the proposition that Crown had demonstrated either an “indifference to regulatory compliance” or a “culture of denial”.
The inquiry before commissioner Patricia Bergin continues on Wednesday
Ms Bergin is expected to issue a report in February 2021.