Australia’s Crown Resorts says it will “vigorously defend” itself against a class action being brought by shareholders accusing the company of misleading or deceptive conduct by claiming it had robust anti-money laundering systems in place.
The class action was revealed earlier this week, with renowned Australian-based law firm Maurice Blackburn having lodged a claim with the Victorian Supreme Court last Friday alleging shareholders have been duped and harmed by Crown’s actions spanning a period of almost six years from December 2014 to October 2020.
It is the second class action currently being undertaken by Maurice Blackburn, the first relating to AU$1.3 billion being wiped off Crown’s share price fall following the arrest of 19 Crown Resorts employees in mainland China for illegally promoting gambling in October 2016.
In a Tuesday filing, Crown confirmed that it has now been served with a writ in respect of the class action, adding “Crown will vigorously defend the proceeding.” The action aims to recover compensation from Crown, seeks the potential buy-back of investors’ shares, and calls for Crown to implement a proper anti-money laundering (AML) training program.
The company currently finds itself the focus of multiple investigations over its failures to properly implement AML controls related to junket rooms at its flagship property, Crown Melbourne. They include the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation issuing a notice to show cause why it should not be disciplined for alleged failures of its internal junket controls, and AUSTRAC, the financial crimes arm of the Australian government, launching a formal enforcement investigation into potential infringements of the country’s anti-money laundering laws.
For its part, Crown has permanently ceased all junket activity at its casinos, farewelled two directors and appointed a new Chief Compliance and Financial Crimes Officer to help overhaul its internal compliance procedures. It has also terminated controversial shareholder agreements with its largest shareholder, James Packer.