James Packer is a man of honesty and integrity who is not responsible for governance problems in the company he once ruled, his lawyers say.
They argue that – far from the all-powerful man he has been described as – Mr Packer is simply an interested shareholder and occasional adviser at Crown Resorts, where he remained a de facto director after stepping down from the board.
As the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority nears the end of its high-stakes inquiry into the future of a new $2.2 billion Sydney casino, Mr Packer’s lawyers were finally able to hit back in his defence.
The inquiry is considering whether Crown is suitable to hold the licence for the casino, still slated to open in December. Mr Packer’s fitness to be a close associate of the casino is also at issue.
Lawyers acting for his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) continue their closing submissions on Thursday.
They will address the arrests of Crown staff in China in 2016 after allegations they were breaching Chinese gambling laws.
They have argued that Mr Packer’s receipt of confidential information from Crown was to enable him to give the company his insights and advice once he left the board, and that the directors were free to ignore that advice.
As well, they say there was no reason to suspect Crown would enter regulatory hot water because of an agreement to sell 19.99 per cent of Crown stock from CPH to Melco Resorts in May 2019.
Mr Packer gave evidence across three days in October, admitting he had engaged in “shameful” and “disgraceful” conduct.
Crown’s lawyers will address the inquiry separately.
Commissioner Patricia Bergin will issue a report in February 2021.