The Victorian Government has called a royal commission into Crown Resorts’ Melbourne casino operations.
It follows the release of the Bergin report in NSW earlier this month, which found Crown facilitated money laundering through subsidiaries’ bank accounts and failed to act when it was drawn to their attention.
WA’s casino watchdog has already recommended an inquiry with the powers of a royal commission to investigate Crown Perth’s suitability to continue operating the Burswood venue.
The Gaming and Wagering Commission is set to move to ban junkets at Crown from as early as this week, and introduce a new requirement for the casino operator to obtain approval prior to establishing gaming bank accounts.
Victorian Gaming Minister Melissa Horne said the State government had gone through the 800-page report line by line and decided a royal commission was needed.
“The findings in there were so severe that the most appropriate action to protect Victorian interests was the establishment of a royal commission,” she said.
Former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein will take on the role of royal commissioner overseeing the inquiry.
He is expected to report back as early as August and no later than the end of the year.
It is estimated to cost Victorian taxpayers between $5 million and $7m.
Crown Resorts was told last week that it would not receive a license to run its Sydney casino at its $2.2 billion Barangaroo development unless Perth-based director John Poynton resigns – but the prominent investment banker insists he has not been asked to fall on his sword.
NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority chairman Philip Crawford told The West Australian Mr Poynton’s resignation was a “pretty key issue” and that he had advised Crown Resorts executive chairman Helen Coonan “his involvement needs to cease”.
He said that extended to both his role as a director of Crown Resorts and chairman of Crown Perth.
Mr Crawford said his view had nothing to do with Mr Poynton’s character or his performance on the Crown board but rather his association with James Packer, whose influence over the company was highlighted as a key issue in the scathing Bergin inquiry.