Shares in Crown Resorts have sunk to a more than two-year low amid more poor press and the resumption of a public inquiry into NSW’s casinos.
The probe initiated by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is investigating the multi-billion dollar industry’s vulnerability to money laundering and organised crime.
Former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin has been tasked with reporting on whether Crown and its Barangaroo casino licensee are fit to hold a gaming licence in NSW.
The latest round of hearings kicked off in Sydney on Monday with expert witness Paul Bromberg, from consultancy firm Spectrum Gaming Group, who appeared by video-link from Bangkok to give evidence on casino junkets for VIP high rollers and the potential for exposure to alleged criminal activities.
Mr Bromberg’s appearance follows a report in Nine newspapers on Sunday that a Crown Resorts vice-president authorised a junior casino staff member to transfer $500,000 to Melbourne drug trafficker in January 2017.
Meanwhile, the Australian Securities and Investments Commission is casting its eye over a now halted $1.8 billion deal to sell a 20 per cent stake in the company to Lawrence Ho’s Melco International last May.
Mr Ho’s father, Stanley Ho, has been allegedly linked to organised crime and is banned from being an associate of Crown’s Barangaroo casino – though he has never been convicted and has always rejected such accusations.
Crown Resort board members Michael Johnston and John Alexander, as well as Crown’s general counsel and company secretary Mary Manos, and Melco’s Geoffrey Davis, will be called before the inquiry.
Major shareholder James Packer and Lawrence Ho are set to appear at a later date.
Crown shares were 6.12 per cent lower at $11.04 by 1230 AEDT.
They were last this low in October 2017, following accusations by Independent federal MP Andrew Wilkie the company had deliberately tampered with poker machines.