Crown Resorts is in trouble yet again, this time over a share deal that former chairman James Packer carried out.
The Australian tycoon and his Crown Resorts casino has been under fire for some time now and the latest hit has him under investigation from Parliament. According to records, Packer sold Hong Kong casino magnate Lawrence Ho 10 percent of his stake in Crown Resorts during the time when Ho was the director of a company that was banned from working with Crown Resorts.
The deal between Packer and Ho for $1.75 billion involved selling a 20 percent stake in Crown Resorts. This deal has come under the spotlight because when the deal took place Lawrence Ho was a director of Lanceford Company Limited.
Lanceford is one among the 59 companies and individuals that Crown is banned from doing business with. This is mainly because of their connection to Stanley Ho, who has alleged links to organized crime in Asia.
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This ban is part of the deal that Crown made to get a 2014 license to build a new casino at Barangaroo in Sydney. The deal was with Melco Resorts, the Macau casino operator where Lawrence Ho is the CEO and owner of half the company. Only 10 percent of the shares were transferred on June 6 and the remaining shares will arrive by the end of September.
Details of the ban were made public recently at the New South Wales (NSW) parliament meeting. After the announcement was made, the NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority announced that an inquiry will be launched into the deal between Packer and Melco, with former supreme court judge Patricia Bergin in the lead.
The inquiry will also extend to the additional reports plaguing the Crown Resorts. This includes money laundering at Crown Melbourne. This is another bad blow for Crown Resorts as the NSW regulator is also looking into whether Crown is the right company to handle a high-roller casino at Barangaroo.
Crown Resisted Release of the Ban List
The revelation of the ban list was prompted by independent upper house MP Justin Field. Along with the list were documents that showed that Crown Resorts fought bitterly to stop the list from getting released. Initially, the company opposed the full release and then relented to restricting access to just the arbitrator, claiming that revealing it would damage Crown’s business operations.
However, Anthony Mason, the arbiter in charge, criticised these attempts at keeping the list secret and stated that the list would be of legitimate interest to the parliament.