Australian casino operator Crown Resorts is to be prohibited from doing business with Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), owned by its former executive chairman James Packer, by the New South Wales (NSW) Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA).
The proposed ban was announced today (16 April) following talks between NSW and CPH.
It comes in the wake of the August 2019 Bergin inquiry and subsequent report, which found evidence of Crown’s properties being used for money laundering.
It also flagged allegations that Crown failed to conduct appropriate due diligence on junket partners, that could have business with operators that had links to organized crime, without evaluating them appropriately.
The report was intended to determine whether Crown was a suitable licensee for Barangaroo, which was a new casino in Sydney at the time.
James Packer, who resigned as executive chair in 2018, was found to have an unnecessary influence on the business after he approved a sale of 19.99% stake to Asian gaming operators Melco for AUS$1.76bn (£981.9m/€1.06bn/US$1.19bn) without board approval.
According to the proposed ban, CPH must not enter into any information-sharing discussions with the operator and must not initiate any discussions with Crown.
In addition, CPH cannot have any executives or nominees appointed to Crown’s board or seek such appointments before October 2024. It is also prohibited from proposing amendments to Crown’s constitution.
The official legal enforcement of the ban, with full detail, is to come at a later date.
This week private equity firm Blackstone changed its bid to acquire Crown Resorts to break the deal if Crown’s existing licenses are suspended or if its NSW license is not granted. If these issues do not arise, the deal is set to close in the third quarter of 2021.
Blackstone offered to acquire the remaining 90.1% of shares in Crown in March at AUS$8.02bn (£4.47bn/€5.21bn/US$6.19bn) after already acquiring 9.99% from Melco in April 2020.