Another investigation into Crown launched

An independent investigation will examine serious criminal allegations at Melbourne’s Crown Casino. 

The Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation (VCGLR) on Friday confirmed that the allegations, made by former inspectors of the casino, would be investigated by prominent QC Ian Freckelton.

Five former VCGLR inspectors told ABC’s Four Corners earlier this week that their concerns about criminal activity at the casino, including money laundering by organised crime syndicates, were not taken seriously by the regulator. 

The five men have been invited to participate in the investigation, which will begin immediately and will be made public once completed.

The investigation will also have access to the VCGLR’s records and personnel as required.

The state government is in the process of setting up a new casino-specific regulator.

It comes as a royal commission examining Crown Resorts suitability to run its Southbank casino will hold its final public hearings on Friday. 

The royal commission is not examining the role of the VCGLR.

Executive Chair Helen Coonan was grilled during Thursday’s hearings over a letter the company wrote to the Victorian government amid the royal commission. 

Counsel assisting the inquiry Adrian Finanzio, SC, said the letter, from Crown’s external lawyer Arnold Bloch Leibler to Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation Minister Melissa Horne on July 2, argued it was “not in the public interest for Crown to fail”.

The letter detailed the “consequences for Crown and stakeholders” that would arise from an outcome of the commission. 

The outcome was redacted but likely relates to the possible finding that Crown is unfit to run the casino. 

Commissioner Ray Finkelstein said a “plain English” reading of the letter was that Crown was seeking to “make sure that the commission doesn’t make a particular finding”.

Ms Coonan denied the company was trying to pre-empt or interfere with the royal commission. 

“What we were trying to do is to have the government aware of the fact that if and when you make a decision that has this effect, it’s a huge problem for the government too,” she said. 

“If there was the finding that is contemplated here … there are quite catastrophic circumstances and implications.”

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