The impact of the Bergin Report into Crown’s suitability, or lack thereof, to hold a NSW casino license continues to be felt with a third Crown board member stepping aside overnight and CEO Ken Barton potentially set to follow.
A day after Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston resigned from the board, former Australian Football League (AFL) boss Andrew Demetriou did the same after being one of three directors specifically identified by Commissioner Patricia Bergin in her report.
In a statement issued overnight, Demetriou said, “I have always been a team player and supported the greater good. I will therefore step down from the Crown Resorts board to give Crown the best possible chance of becoming suitable to the NSW Regulator.”
According to local media reports, Crown CEO Ken Barton will also stand down today following discussions with Chairman Helen Coonan on Thursday, although in a Friday morning filing Crown dismissed reports Barton was already out the door.
“Contrary to media reports, Mr Ken Barton … has not resigned,“ the company said. “Crown and Mr Barton are continuing to consider his position having regard to the recommendations and findings of the Commissioner’s report of the inquiry.“
Barton, Demetriou and Johnston were all called out in the Bergin Report for their failures to implement adequate Anti-Money Laundering controls amid allegations that Asian crime syndicates had used Crown bank accounts to launder millions.
“It is suggested that in the circumstances of the findings against Mr Barton, Mr Johnston and Mr Demetriou, the [NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming] Authority would be justified in entertaining very serious doubts that Crown could be converted into a suitable person under the Casino Control Act whilst they remain as directors,” Bergin wrote.
The departure of all three would go a long way towards satisfying one of the key conditions outlined by Bergin as well as Authority Chairman Philip Crawford in getting to suitability.
Crawford said this week that Crown has “every prospect” of getting to suitability if it is willing to work with the regulator.
“We’re going to be working very hard with them and we want immediate change in some areas. I expect some areas will take a little bit longer but let’s have a dialogue and let’s see if [Crown] are cooperating,” he said.