Sitting before the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Commission inquiry for the second day, James Packer conceded some responsibility for the arrest of nineteen Crown Casino staff in China in 2016. The staff were arrested for illegally procuring high rollers.
“I accept some (blame), not all, but some,” Mr Packer said.
Mr Packer said he was not aware of staff in China fearing arrest, when Counsel assisting the inquiry Mr Adam Bell read emails to that effect.
Mr Bell: This expression of being in constant fear by the staff in China was an important issue that you needed to be aware of as chairman of Crown Resorts.
Mr Packer: Yes … it should have gone to the risk committee first, then to the board and then it would have been brought to my attention.
Mr Bell: Certainly, your loyal staff member Mr [Barry] Felstead told you of the concerns of Crown staff in China?”
Mr Packer: No, he did not. I don’t understand why Mr [Rowen] Craigie didn’t tell me about this matter … Mr Craigie was specifically asked to look into the Korean arrests and to look into what we were doing in China and make sure we were taking appropriate steps.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority inquiry is investigating whether Crown is fit to keep its casino licence for the new $2.4 billion Barangaroo casino and hotel development.
The inquiry was brought about following allegations published in NINE, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age in July 2019 that Crown Resorts’ casinos were used to launder money, that anti-money laundering controls were not rigorously enforced, and gambling laws were breached. It is also alleged its casinos or subsidiaries were associated with junket operators linked to drug traffickers, money launderers, human traffickers and organised crime groups.
At the inquiry yesterday, Mr Packer acknowledged that some of the threatening emails he had sent to an unnamed businessman were shameful but that he was mentally unwell at the time. He is now on medication to manage his bipolar disorder. Mr Packer owns 36 per cent of Crown.
The inquiry continues.