Crown Resorts CEO and Managing Director Ken Barton has stepped down in the wake of the damning Bergin Report into the company’s suitability to hold a NSW casino license.
One of three directors specifically named and shamed in the report, Barton has now joined Michael Johnston and Andrew Demetriou – who both resigned last week – with Crown issuing a statement early Monday morning confirming his departure.
It was also revealed that Chairman Helen Coonan will assume the role of Executive Chairman on an interim basis, effective immediately, while the decimated Board of Directors searches for a new CEO.
“I would like to thank Ken for his dedication and commitment to Crown,” Coonan said. “Ken joined Crown more than a decade ago and has played an invaluable role with the business, initially as CFO and in the past year as CEO. Ken has always put the interests of Crown first.
“Assuming the role of Executive Chairman is a decision I have not taken lightly but the Board feels it provides leadership stability and certainty at this important time for the business. The Board is determined to maintain the momentum as Crown takes significant steps to improve our governance, compliance and culture.
“Working closely with the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority and regulators in Victoria and Western Australia, I will continue to lead on implementation of Crown’s ambitious reform program.”
The Bergin Report was highly critical of Barton’s failure to keep close tabs on two Crown Resorts bank accounts linked to its casinos in Melbourne and Perth through which it is alleged large amounts of money was laundered. Despite banks raising concerns over transactions, Barton is alleged to have fought to keep the accounts open.
“Mr Barton has demonstrated that he is no match for what is needed at the helm of a casino licensee or a close associate of the licensee,” Commissioner Patricia Bergin wrote.
“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.”
Crown said Barton will receive entitlements agreed under the terms of his employment contract and otherwise as required by law.