Crown said money laundering claim was ‘media beaten up’ to convince gambling regulators NOT to investigate
Crown casino bosses insisted money laundering claims were ‘just beaten up by the media’ and persuaded gambling regulators NOT to investigate
- The casino’s legal boss convinced investigators that money laundering had been beaten up
- The Gaming and Wagering Commission of Western Australia decided to wait
- There was confusion as to who was responsible for investigating the claims
Gaming regulators in Western Australia chose not to investigate money laundering allegations against Crown after the company’s “convincing” former legal boss told them it was a media abuse, is a royal. committee told.
The Crown Perth investigation this week completed the first phase of hearings focused on the regulation of gambling in WA.
Former Gaming and Wagering Commission member Andrew Duckworth described how the regulator responded in 2019 when Nine published claims linking Crown to money laundering and expedited visa applications for high net worth clients.
He said the GWC had decided to take a wait-and-see approach while other investigations were being conducted, including in Victoria.
Gaming regulators in Western Australia chose not to investigate allegations of money laundering against Crown after the company’s ‘convincing’ former legal boss told them it was assault.
“The reasoning was that we might get more information from the Victorian investigation that would lead the GWC to take further action if necessary,” said Mr Duckworth.
“Members clearly knew there was the power (to investigate), but there was no suggestion at this point to say,” Okay, we better start our own investigation. “
Crown’s then-legal boss Joshua Preston gave a presentation to the GWC, claiming the allegations were “media assault” and pointing to examples of false accusations previously made through the press.
“I was starting to be skeptical, but he was extremely convincing,” Mr. Duckworth told the investigation.
“I guess it’s one of those things, there’s always one thing you can go back to.
A bombshell NSW report on the company’s operations earlier this year found that Crown was not fit to have the license for a Sydney casino because it had facilitated money laundering
“Every now and then someone has been wrongly accused or something like that and, in the back of your mind, he’s kind of innocent until found guilty.”
There was a “long-held” view within the GWC that “other agencies had the primary responsibility for money laundering and that it was beyond our ability to do anything about it.”
Mr Duckworth said the GWC had taken a similar wait-and-see attitude after Crown employees were arrested in China in 2016 for illegal gambling promotion.
A bombshell NSW report on the company’s operations earlier this year found that Crown was not fit to be licensed for a Sydney casino because it had facilitated money laundering through subsidiary bank accounts.
The second phase of the WA investigation, which will begin in July, will examine Crown Perth’s suitability to hold a casino license.
Former GWC members have said inspections and audits were conducted at the casino, but none were specifically aimed at identifying money laundering or other criminal activity.
The investigation also learned that GWC members had no experience of increasingly complex casino regulation.