Crown ‘not suitable’ for Melbourne licence

Crown is not suitable to hold a licence for its Melbourne casino, a royal commission has been told. 

Counsel assisting Adrian Finanzio SC on Tuesday said the inquiry into whether Crown can retain a licence for its Melbourne operations had revealed illegal conduct motivated by a culture that placed profit above all else. 

“After all of the evidence presented in these hearings, it remains clear that Crown Melbourne is not presently suitable to hold the casino licence,” Mr Finanzio told the inquiry in his closing submissions. 

“This is not a case of isolated or trifling indiscretions or breaches, capable of easy and quick rectification … no amount of restructuring can restore confidence in it as a proper person to hold a licence.

“The evidence reveals serious misconduct, illegal conduct and highly inappropriate conduct which has been encouraged or facilitated by a culture which has consistently put profit ahead before all other considerations.”

Mr Finanzio also called for the heads of Crown chair Helen Coonan and Crown Melbourne chief Xavier Walsh. 

He said while Ms Coonan’s “willingness to stay the course” must be commended, she was tied up in the “past failings” of Crown. 

“She is not suitable to be leading the cultural reform that Crown needs at this time,” Mr Finanzio told the inquiry.

Mr Walsh, the inquiry heard previously, knew Crown Melbourne underpaid millions in gaming taxes to the Victorian government for three years but did nothing about it until one day after the royal commission was announced. 

“The evidence in these hearings has brought into serious question the judgment and integrity of Mr Walsh,” Mr Finanzio said. 

“He, along with Ms Coonan, cannot be the credible face of the change required at Crown.”

“Their mutual failings underscore the culture still at play at Crown.”

The inquiry, overseen by former Federal Court judge Ray Finkelstein QC, continues.

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