James Packer sought to cover WorkCover costs following 2016 incident

By William Brown Updated
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Crown Resorts’ billionaire major shareholder James Packer is being pursued for more than $300,000 in damages by a Victorian workers’ compensation authority.

The Age reports that following an alleged assault of a security guard at Melbourne’s Crown Casino, WorkCover, the state’s workers’ compensation scheme, is seeking $326,834.55 in compensation and medical costs to a former Crown security guard who accused Mr Packer of assaulting him before threatening to have him sacked on New Year’s Day in 2016.

The state-run WorkCover authority is now pursuing Mr Packer and Crown to recover these costs, which it indicated would continue to grow.

The former security guard, Iskandar Chaban, alleges James Packer became verbally abusive and threatening, ran towards him, pushed him in the chest and said words to the effect, “I will throw you out of your job,” on New Year’s Day in 2016.

According to the state of claim filed in Victoria’s Supreme Court, Dr Chaban says he did not recognise Crown’s long-serving executive chairman as he approached the main gaming floor at Crown Towers Melbourne with senior colleague Ishan Ratnam.

Dr Chaban said he thought the casino mogul may have been intoxicated at the time.

“The worker observed Mr Packer, a person previously unknown to the worker, approaching him and formed the view that Mr Packer was intoxicated,” the writ says.

“Mr Packer became verbally abusive and threatening towards the worker and ran towards the worker pushing him in the chest. Mr Packer then verbally threatened the worker saying words to the effect, ‘I will throw you out of your job.’

“Dr Chaban was subsequently escorted to an office where the management staff of Crown verbally abused, humiliated, intimidated and bullied the worker,” the writ added.

Crown security guard suffers back and neck injuries following altercation

Dr Chaban was then driven to Southern Cross Station.

The then 60-year-old was later taken to the Northern Hospital suffering neck and back injuries.

In December 2020, Dr Chaban named James Packer and his then employer, MSS Security, and Crown Resorts as defendants in a separate civil claim over the alleged altercation.

The case reveals that the WorkCover scheme has already paid a total of $326,834.55 over the incident for weekly compensation for Dr Chaban and medical expenses, with that figure expected to continue to grow.

Carbone Lawyers partner John Karantzis, who represents Dr Chaban, said at the time that his client continued to suffer stress, anxiety and depression as a result of the conduct of Mr Packer and the co-defendants.

“Our client’s life has been devastated by the events that transpired. Such conduct is unacceptable and must be addressed,” Mr Karantzis said.

At the time, Crown casino dismissed the incident as “minor” and a “misunderstanding”.

The guard physically blocked Mr Packer’s entrance to the gaming area, causing a “collision”, the statement said.

In a statement from January 2016, Crown claimed it had attempted to alert Dr Chaban that one of its “most important VIPs” was approaching, but the guard failed to recognise Mr Packer.

The Supreme Court action against Mr Packer and Crown Resorts rounds out a dismal year for the billionaire and the casino giant after a string of probity failings at Crown were uncovered by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Over more than 60 days of public hearings, a series of “specific failings and shortcomings” at the company emerged, including repeated non-compliance with anti-money laundering laws, close links to dubious junket operators in China and the “deleterious” impact of major shareholder Mr Packer.

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