News Packer among witnesses at casino inquiry

Packer among witnesses at casino inquiry

Mr is due to front an inquiry into the suitability of Crown Resorts to hold a licence to operate a new Sydney casino. Photo: Getty
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Billionaire James Packer and senior board members of Crown Resorts are among the witnesses due to face a casino inquiry this week.

Mr Packer, a former board member and the company’s majority shareholder, is expected to appear by video-link at the ongoing series of hearings, which continue on Monday.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry is looking at whether a Crown Resorts subsidiary is suitable to hold a licence to operate a casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo.

The hearings started in January following claims Crown’s casinos had been used for money laundering by organised crime.

Mr Packer was Crown executive chairman until 2018.

The inquiry has already heard from Crown Resorts’ chief executive, Kenneth Barton, and other senior management figures.

Former chief executive John Alexander will be cross-examined ahead of Mr Packer.

Independent chair – and former federal MP – Helen Coonan is scheduled to appear in October.

Mr Barton faced extensive questioning over Crown Resorts’ response to the risk of its casinos being used for money-laundering.

Concerns over the planned sale of Crown Resorts shares to Melco Resorts, without advance notice given to regulators, also gave rise to the inquiry.

The inquiry commissioner, former Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin SC, is required to report on whether Crown Resorts is suitable to be a close associate of the Barangaroo licensee, and whether anyone who would become its close associate as a result of a sale of shares to Melco would be not suitable.

Ms Bergin’s report is expected in early 2021.