Crown Sydney casino opening delayed after crucial admission at money laundering probe
Crown Sydney casino opening delayed after crucial admission at money laundering probe

Sydney’s Crown casino opening blocked

Billionaire James Packer's Crown casino will not open its gaming floors in December as planned after the gaming regulator expressed concerns the Sydney Harbour high rise could be a "magnet" for money laundering.

Crown on Wednesday night confirmed to the Australian Stock Exchange it would not open the gambling side of the $2.2 billion Barangaroo venue but "will continue to focus on opening the non-gaming operations at Crown Sydney".

Crown Sydney was expected to open in December but has been delayed till at least February. Picture: Richard Dobson
Crown Sydney was expected to open in December but has been delayed till at least February. Picture: Richard Dobson

The NSW Independent ­Liquor and Gaming Authority chair Philip Crawford said the regulator was "not comfortable" with Crown's gaming ­operations opening next month as planned after the ­casino admitted that accounts it had set up for VIP customers could have been used for money laundering.

"Because when we talk about money laundering … we're talking about potential drugs, child sexual exploitation, people trafficking and financing terrorism … you can see why we have concern," he said.

Mr Crawford said the ­authority would wait until the findings of Commissioner ­Patricia Bergin, SC's inquiry into the fitness of Crown to hold a 99-year casino licence were handed down in ­February and would reassess its decision after reading them.  "The authority has found ongoing evidence before the Bergin Inquiry to be extremely concerning," Mr Crawford said.

The Crown Casino development Sydney will not open next month as planned.
The Crown Casino development Sydney will not open next month as planned.

"We are concerned that this particular type of business is a magnet for money laundering.

"It affects liquor licences and importantly it is about whether certain key people are fit and proper to be associated with a casino."

It could mean Crown has to cut ties to Mr Packer, its major shareholder. Counsel assisting the inquiry has argued that Mr Packer should be banned from having anything to do with the Sydney casino, due to prior poor behaviour, including sending threatening emails that he admitted were "shameful" and "disgraceful".

Reclusive billionaire James Packer will no longer get special treatment over other shareholders, the inquiry also heard.
Reclusive billionaire James Packer will no longer get special treatment over other shareholders, the inquiry also heard.

In closing submissions to the NSW ILGA inquiry yesterday, Crown's counsel Robert Craig said there had been "mistakes   and   shortcomings" in its money laundering oversight.

And he said two reports had shown "cuckoo smurfing" could be seen in the accounts of two Crown subsidiaries. Cuckoo smurfing is a form of money laundering where large transactions are split into small transactions in a bid to disguise them.

NSW Minister for Customer Service Victor Domin­ello said: "We support the ongoing Bergin inquiry and await the final report early next year."

Originally published as Sydney's Crown casino opening blocked


Motorbikers flock to Roma for huge Christmas charity run

Premium Content Motorbikers flock to Roma for huge Christmas charity run

THIS year’s Maranoa Motorcyclists Toy Run had the largest turnout since 2012, with...

Hours long police pursuit locates stolen Miles car

Premium Content Hours long police pursuit locates stolen Miles car

A CAR stolen from Miles this morning was located 130km from where it was taken.

Truck carrying machinery ablaze on Leichhardt Highway

Premium Content Truck carrying machinery ablaze on Leichhardt Highway

EMERGENCY services rushed to the scene of a vehicle fire on the Leichhardt Hwy...