News State Western Australia News Perth Casino Royal Commission hears inspector claim signature forged on Crown junkets report

Perth Casino Royal Commission hears inspector claim signature forged on Crown junkets report

The royal commission is looking at how casino gambling is regulated in WA. Photo: ABC News/Hugh Sando
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The Perth Casino Royal Commission has heard allegations of a forged signature on a report that led to the casino watchdog making it easier for junket operators with criminal links to come to Crown Perth.

The royal commission yesterday heard from long-time racing, gaming and liquor bureaucrat Nick Toyne, who said he did not write a report which led to a crucial decision to abolish the regulation of junkets, despite being listed as its author.

Mr Toyne, one of the state’s first casino inspectors, gave evidence that he had no knowledge of the report bearing his name or its contents until just prior to the royal commission in March this year.

“I was quite outraged when I saw it, yes,” he said.

The paper recommended removing the requirement for junket operators to be pre-approved.

But the Gaming and Wagering Commission (GWC) went a step further and, at the meeting, resolved to abolish all regulation of junkets at Crown Perth.

The royal commission is in its third week of public hearings. Photo: ABC News/Hugh Sando

As a result, junket operators no longer had to prove they were of good character and financial standing, or provide their criminal records in other countries and states.

The royal commission has previously heard that these abolished measures were originally established to help deal with the risk of junkets being run by criminal elements.

Toyne ‘just informed’ regulations repealed

Mr Toyne, who retired in March, said he always signed agenda papers that he prepared but he did not recognise the signature on the report presented to the GWC in his name.

Senior counsel assisting the royal commission Patricia Cahill: “It’s difficult. Someone’s ostensibly signed on your behalf.”

Nick Toyne: “Yes.”

Cahill: “Any idea whose those initials might be?”

Toyne: “No idea whatsoever.”

Mr Toyne gave evidence that he was on sick leave from mid-January until early March 2010.

When questioned whether he asked about why the junket approvals had been abolished when he returned to the office, Mr Toyne said his office environment “wasn’t conducive to making those sorts of inquiries”.

Nick Toyne denies authoring a key report despite being listed as its author. Photo: Supplied

In particular, he said he felt he could not approach his boss — former director-general of the Department of Racing, Gaming and Liquor Barry Sargeant — and former chief casino officer Michael Connolly.

“In my opinion, Mr Sargeant and Mr Connolly had a very autocratic management style and it wouldn’t have been conducive to question the process, it had occurred,” he said.

“I wasn’t aware it had been put in under my name.

“I was just informed, I just learnt that the regulations had been repealed.”

Crown allegedly requested change

Mr Toyne said he did not agree with the move because he thought that police should be involved in assessing junket operations.

But he said that if he had been asked to write the agenda paper on junket regulations for the GWC meeting, he probably would have written something similar to the report submitted falsely under his name.

“Because it was quite clear the [director-general] wanted the junket regulations repealed,” he said.

Mr Sargeant gave evidence two weeks ago that change in the regulations was initiated by a request from Crown.

“I’m pretty sure they initiated … on my recollection, yes, they did request it and it was looked at by the department,” he said.

Mr Toyne has been linked to the report in evidence to the royal commission by other former colleagues in recent weeks.

Two weeks ago, WA’s casino control officer Mark Beecroft told the royal commission that Mr Toyne authored the report.

“The Gaming and Wagering Commission agreed on the basis of a paper presented to it back in 2010, I think by Mr Toyne, that recommended the removal on the basis that there was a duplication of processes,” he said.

Inspector married casino employee

The royal commission is in its third week of witness hearings and is looking at how casino gambling is regulated in WA before handing down an interim report next month.

One issue being considered is conflicts of interest, with Mr Toyne discussing how he married a casino employee while he was working as a casino inspector.

He said he declared the relationship verbally but now thought he should not have worked in casino regulation while married to someone who worked on the casino gaming floor.

He said he was aware of at least three inspectors who were married to casino staff.