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Crown Casino hits back at media reports

Fri, Aug 2, 7:58am by Staff Writer

Crown Casino has hit back at media reports linking it to Asian crime gangs, money laundering and fast-track visa applications.

The ABC is reporting that the casino has taken out full-page advertisements in major newspapers condemning what it calls “a deceitful campaign” against the company.

The message from the board of directors of Crown Resorts is a response to an investigation aired on Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes program last Sunday and published in Nine newspapers The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald.

Headed “setting the record straight in the face of a deceitful campaign against Crown”, the Crown advertisement accuses Nine of unfairly attempting to damage its reputation.

“As a board, we are extremely concerned for our staff, shareholders and other stakeholders, as much of this unbalanced and sensationalized reporting is based on unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods,” the advertisement says.

“As an ASX listed company and a Board we are always striving to ensure we have the highest levels of governance and a commitment to the highest standards.

“It is deeply disappointing that the media involved in these inflammatory stories have not upheld the same principles.”

News Corp newspapers including The Australian and Herald Sun are running the advertisements, but Nine’s newspapers declined to print them, instead publishing an article responding to each of Crown’s claims.

Publishing ads wouldn’t have been right – The Age editor

The editor of The Age Alex Bavelle told ABC Radio Melbourne that Crown had tried to place the advertisement in The Age as well as its sister papers The Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian Financial Review, and the publications had rejected them.

“We thought it wasn’t quite right that we should take money from Crown for an ad given that we had asked them at least 48 hours in advance, we sent them 63 questions pertaining to our stories about them and all they sent us back was a very short, two-sentence response saying that they don’t comment on business operations.”

Mr Lavelle said Nine had not received any threats of legal action from Crown over its reports.

The advertisements appeared as the chief executive of the Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission, Michael Phelan, told Nine newspapers it was probing the operation of agents who bring high-roller clients into casinos to gamble on “junkets” as part of an investigation into financially motivated crime.

“The infrastructure supporting junket operations both internationally and within Australia provides opportunities for exploitation by serious and organised crime to conceal and legitimize criminal wealth,” Mr Phelan told Nine.

Earlier this week, Attorney-General Christian Porter referred the allegations raised by Nine to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity, saying there were “sufficient concerns” to warrant further examination.

In Federal Parliament, Independent MP Andrew Wilkie this week pushed for a parliamentary inquiry into the allegations raised in the Nine investigation, a call supported by crossbench senator Jacqui Lambie and the Greens.

But the House of Representatives rejected that push, with Labor and the Coalition voting against it.

The Department of Home Affairs this week confirmed it previously had an agreement with Crown to fast-track short-stay visa applications for Chinese visitors, but insisted no special treatment was given to applicants.

Former Australian Border Force chief Roman Quaedvlieg told Nine that two federal ministers and a backbencher lobbied his agency to make it easier for Chinese gamblers to enter Australia on private jets.

Mr Quaedvlieg was sacked last year after an investigation found he helped his girlfriend try to secure a job within his department at Sydney Airport.

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