MELBOURNE, AAP – Crown’s former chief executive reportedly told a consultant he had concerns about the “grim” state of the firm’s corporate culture, a royal commission has heard.
Deloitte partner Alison Whitaker met with the James Packer-backed group’s then-CEO, Ken Barton, in December 2020.
Her notes detail Mr Barton’s concerns about “psychological safety” among employees.
The inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations was told this term referred to a perceived inability to speak out against problems within the company.
Mr Barton reportedly told Ms Whitaker that Crown’s board had not been listening and responding to feedback.
Crown’s middle management had also been hampered by complacency and “permafrost”, the former chief said.
Counsel assisting Penny Neskovcin QC said these comments suggested Mr Barton, who stepped down in February this year, viewed Crown’s culture as “pretty grim”.
“What you’ve just listed does paint a pretty grim picture,” Ms Whitaker responded.
Commissioner Ray Finkelstein, a former Federal Court judge, said Mr Barton’s concerns highlighted “quite serious problems”.
The royal commission was set up by the Andrews Labor government after a NSW inquiry found Crown unsuitable to run its newly built casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo.
Earlier this week it heard that Crown Melbourne could owe the Victorian government up to $167 million in unpaid gaming taxes.
The inquiry was also told Crown Melbourne allowed a regular gambler to keep playing, despite the fact he was unable to repay a $100,000 debt to the casino.
It continues on Wednesday.