Former WA casino bureaucrat questioned about junket report

By Charlotte Lee Updated
Crown Perth suitability report due soon

The West Australian royal commission into Crown Resorts has questioned a retired bureaucrat about why a report that made changes to the gaming and liquor watchdog had his name on it, despite him not authoring the report.

The Mandarin reports that the GWC paper recommended a pre-approval requirement for junket operators to be lifted and that further steps were taken by the watchdog to abolish all regulation of junkets at the casino.

Nick Toyne told the royal commission that he was outraged his name appeared on the report.

He gave evidence that he was neither aware of the report nor its contents until March.

The GWC regulates 54 different venues across WA.

As a result of the report that bore Toyne’s name, the gaming and liquor watchdog made changes that meant junket operators were not required to prove their good character, financial standing or show records about their criminal records from other jurisdictions.

Toyne failed to raise his issues about the change with his bosses, even though he said he did not agree with the GWC decision to lift the requirements because he thought police should play a role in assessing junket operations.

The ex-casino inspector went on to say that despite his position on the subject, if he had written the agenda paper on junket regulations, he would have produced something similar anyway because “it was quite clear the director-general wanted the junket regulations repealed”.

Toyne’s GWC bosses were former Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor director-general Barry Sargeant and former chief casino officer Michael Connolly.

“In my opinion, Mr Sargeant and Mr Connolly had a very autocratic management style and it wouldn’t have been conducive to question the process, had it occurred,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware it had been put in under my name.

“I was just informed, I just learnt that the regulations had been repealed.”

Conflicting reports about Toyne report

Toyne testified that it was common practice for him to sign agenda papers that he had prepared.

However, he denied recognising the signature on the GWC report in question as his own.

When asked by senior counsel assisting the royal commission Patricia Cahill if that meant someone else must have signed on Toyne’s behalf, he replied “yes” but he had “no idea whatsoever” whose initials they were.

Other former GWC colleagues have testified to the royal commission that Toyne was linked to the mysterious report.

WA casino control officer Mark Beecroft gave evidence that Toyne was the report author.

“The Gaming and Wagering COmmission agreed on the basis of a paper presented to it back in 2010, I think by Mr Toyne, that recommended the removal on the basis that there was a duplication of processes,” Beecroft said.

Barry Sargeant gave evidence to the royal commission in early May, testifying that he was “pretty sure” on his recollection that Crown had requested junket rules be reviewed.

The royal commission has also grappled with conflict of interest problems between the GWC and Crown, including a number of inspectors who were married to casino staff.

Toyne, who married a casino employee while he was working as a GWC inspector, said that he had declared the relationship verbally.

In hindsight, he said he thought he should not have worked for a casino watchdog while married to someone employed in the industry.

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