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Crown’s profits down as CEO hits out

Fri, Aug 23, 8:12am by Staff Writer

It hasn’t been a happy time for Crown Resorts recently, with damaging headlines and a major profit slump.

News.com.au reports that the casino empire has fired back, with chief executive of Crown Resorts John Alexander said the company was “sprayed with allegations” related to money laundering and organised crime, insisting the gambling empire is a “good, compliant company.”

The company cited a drop in revenue from visiting Chinese high-stakes gamblers as its profits tumbled 4.7 per cent to $368.6 million.

It is these junkets that were the centre of an investigation that revealed Crown’s links to Chinese crime bosses and communist party figures, drug syndicates, money laundering and alleged sex trafficking rings, according to a Nine investigation.

The company told investors on Wednesday that it was open to reducing its reliance on the controversial operators who supply high-spending Asian punters to the empire’s VIP gambling services.

“It is unfortunate when we get sprayed with allegations,” Mr Alexander said.

“You don’t appreciate that some of our staff find it difficult to cope.”

Speaking for the first time since the damning claims were aired, the chief executive said the company had brought in an independent regulator, Neil Jeans from Initialism, who specializes in anti-money laundering and counter terrorism financing.

Mr Alexander said the regulator told the company’s board this week the casino was a “gold star customer”.

“This is a very highly regulated industry,” he said.

While Crown acknowledged the proceedings and the regulatory attention following allegations of links between junket operators and organised crime.

“It comes as no surprise that various regulators and other agencies have launched inquiries given recent media reports and the sensationalist nature of the allegations raised,” Mr Alexander said.

“Crown has zero tolerance for criminal elements and we view these inquiries as an opportunity to continue our co-operation with regulators and other agencies.”

Crown said it would cooperate with the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation as it looks into media allegations related to business ties between the Crown Melbourne casino and organisations linked to Chinese criminals.

Crown has already defended its due diligence of the junket operators that bring Chinese gamblers through its doors amid media allegations of money laundering and dodging Australian visa application requirements for wealthy clients.

It also reiterated on Wednesday it was cooperating with an inquiry by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority that followed the sale of a near 20 per cent stake in the company by major shareholder James Packer to Lawrence Ho’s Melco Resorts.

The company is subject to an Australian Criminal Intelligence Commission investigation and the federal government has referred the matter to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

Including fluctuating win rates and other one-off items, Crown’s statutory profit fell 28.1 per cent on the prior year, which included both higher revenue and the impact of asset sales.

Its normalised revenue was down 9.9 per cent to $3.17 billion, with its normalised profit down 4.7 per cent to $368.6 million.

Packer’s new yacht ready to set sail

James Packer’s biggest ever mega yacht has taken four years to complete and the budget has blown out by $50 million, but the Los Angeles-based billionaire is about to set sail into a whole new world of luxury.

The Daily Telegraph reported last month that with a final cost of $200 million, the 108m giga yacht is among the biggest in the world.

It will be the second time the casino mogul has named a boat using the initials of his children.

This vessel is called IJE and his previous superyacht was EJI, after his children Emmanuelle, Jackson and Indigo.

The boat’s construction had been overseen by Mr Packer’s great mate Matthew Csidei, who was in charge of the “ministry of fun”, Mr Packer’s portfolio of planes, boats and homes.


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