The Executive Chairman of Crown Resorts, John Alexander, has lashed what he describes as “sensationalist” news reports claiming links between Crown and Asian criminal syndicates while defending the company’s “zero tolerance” policy towards criminal elements.
His comments, which formed part of Crown’s FY19 results release on Wednesday, follow a series of damaging media reports from Australian newspapers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age and Channel 9’s 60 Minutes television program questioning its use of Asian-based VIP promotors – also known as junkets – and alleging links to large-scale money laundering.
Those allegations have led to an inquiry by the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, but Alexander has hopped onto the front foot this week in citing Crown’s contribution to the Australian economy through its role in tourism, employment, training and its corporate responsibility programs in FY19.
“Crown’s contributions risk being overshadowed by recent media reporting which has unfairly sought to tarnish Crown’s reputation,” he said.
“Crown operates in one of the most highly regulated industries in Australia with our business subject to ongoing review and monitoring by State gaming regulators and Governmental agencies such as AUSTRAC.
“It comes as no surprise that various regulators and other agencies have launched inquiries given recent media reports and the sensationalist nature of the allegations raised.
“Crown has zero tolerance for criminal elements and we view these inquiries as an opportunity to continue our cooperation with regulators and other agencies.”
It was also announced earlier this month that a second inquiry will be conducted by The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority – the regulatory body tasked with overseeing the AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney – into the recent acquisition a 19.99% stake in Crown by Macau’s Melco Resorts & Entertainment.
While that transaction is pending, Crown can at least take solace in the fact that its Sydney development is tracking both on time and on budget.
“Construction of the Crown Sydney Hotel Resort is progressing on schedule,” the company revealed on Wednesday.
“The tower elevator core structure has been constructed to level 51, whilst the fit-out of the first hotel rooms on level 6 is well advanced. The podium structure is complete with exterior glazing and façade work well advanced, enabling fit out activities to be progressed in all areas of the podium.
“The project remains on schedule for completion in the first half of calendar year 2021.”