Crown Perth report in the Premier’s hands

By Noah Taylor Updated
Crown Resorts off the ASX as Blackstone takeover confirmed

The royal commission report in Crown Perth has been handed to the state’s Premier, but remains closely guarded.

The ABC reports the WA government is yet to say when it will public the report’s findings.

It comes four months after its original November 2021 deadline, which was extended at the request of the commissioners, who frequently mentioned during hearings the pressures of their tight schedule.

The inquiry into Crown Perth is the latest in a long line of heavyweight investigations into alleged money laundering, criminal infiltration and problem gambling at Crown’s casino in recent years.

Recently, the financial crimes watchdog, AUSTRAC, served Crown Perth and Crown Melbourne with an 863-page statement of claim after its own investigation.

In meticulous detail, it outlines 547 alleged breaches of Australia’s anti-money laundering and counter-terrorism financing laws.

Crown private jet used to fly in overseas gamblers

That document alleged the Crown private jet was frequently used to fly overseas gamblers and their money, such as in 2016 when 12 people arrived in Perth with large amounts of cash which, AUSTRAC alleges, was not monitored appropriately.

It also claimed one gambler, known as Customer 29, had many aliases, was a member of foreign political organisations, presented two different passports to Crown Perth and engaged in plenty of suspicious transactions.

Between October 2016 and August 2017, his junket had a turnover of $310 million at the casino.

He was given access to the Crown private jet to fly between different countries, carrying big amounts of money.

But for many years, AUSTRAC alleges, there were no red flags raised about the source of his wealth, his transactions were not closely watched and he was not rated as a high-risk customer by Crown Perth until February 2019.

In a third example, another person known as Customer 31, lost almost $28 million at Crown Perth between 2003 and 2020.

He had a senior position in an overseas state-run organisation, had been arrested over bribery charges and was believed to be a “crime lord” of drug, prostitution, gambling and extortion operations.

AUSTRAC alleges Crown Perth did not adequately examine whether the source of Customer 31’s wealth was legitimate and monitor his transactions, which included many examples of cuckoo smurfing, a form of money laundering to hide the original source of the money.

Crown penalties could jeopardise Blackstone takeover 

The penalty for each breach is between $18 million and $22.2 million.

If AUSTRAC’s case in the Federal Court is successful, the total fine awarded could jeopardise the planned takeover of Crown by US private equity giant Blackstone.

Under the proposed terms of the deal lodged with the ASX, fines of more than $750 million could allow Blackstone to get out of the deal.

But the Blackstone deal also needs the approval of state gambling regulators, including WA’s Gaming and Wagering Commission.

A Department of Local Government, Sport and Cultural Industries spokesperson said Blackstone applied to be considered for probity approval in December 2021.

“The probity investigation is currently ongoing,” the spokesperson said.

As part of this process, the GWC will investigate whether Blackstone and its associates are suitable people to run a casino, looking at their reputation and financial status.

Another factor which could influence the Blackstone deal was any drastic recommendations, which the WA Government agrees to implement, from the Perth royal commission report.

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