Crown Resorts’ executives should appear in front of the Victorian royal commission and undergo questioning about alleged decade-long tax underpayment.
Last year’s inquiry conducted by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority found incriminating evidence pointing to money laundering linked to organised crime. As a result, the royal commission’s investigation now aims to determine whether the giant should keep its gaming licence for Crown Melbourne.
The news has emerged that chairwoman Helen Coonan first heard about the tax predicament back in February, but the board of directors only found out on June 7, during a scheduled board meeting.
So far, eight Crown Resorts’ executives are set to testify at the Victorian royal commission’s final hearing. The former Landlease boss and Crown’s new chief executive, Steve McCann, is also mong those participating in questioning.
The investigation alleges that the potential tax underpayment could reach $272 million.
More recently, the inquiry has focused on questionable credit card transactions conducted by Chinese patrons who exchanged their money for gambling chips at the hotel reception. The hotel then issued fake invoices for non-existent rooms.
These allegations have done a lot of harm to Crown Resorts, which has been going through reform efforts recently.
Another royal commission based in Western Australia is questioning whether Crown should keep its gaming licence in Perth, after the officials also came across money laundering evidence.
Crown Planned to Reinstate the Illegal High Roller UnionPay Credit Card Scheme
In 2016, the China-based Crown staff was arrested after the authorities uncovered an illegal UnionPay credit cards scheme that allowed high rollers to make $500,000 hotel charges in exchange for gambling chips. In June, Crown admitted that it had violated Victorian law between 2012 and 2016.
During the Victorian royal commission investigation, Jan Williamson, Crown’s head of the legal department in Melbourne, said that she was told to deny requests to bring back the illegal practice.
In 2018, Isham Ratnam, Crown’s executive in charge of high rollers, wanted to revive the scheme. Fortunately, Ms Williamsons’ then-boss, chief legal officer Joshua Preston, told her to resist the requests and hold her stance against using UnionPay credit cards.
Crown’s Responsible Gambling Rules and Regulations in the Spotlight
Although the gaming giant has introduced a new responsible gambling code, it has still gone against many rules, which could prove to be fatal and cost Crown its Victorian gaming licence.
Crown recently hired only twelve people to monitor tens of thousands of patrons, which resulted in leaving problem gamblers to wager freely for 96 hours without exiting the casino.
In addition to appearing before the royal commission to convince them of her attempts to overhaul Crown’s corporate governance and cultural problems, Helen Coonan will also have to account for the company’s sloppy responsible gambling measures. Furthermore, Ms Coonan will need to clarify why she withheld information about potential tax underpayment from the board.