Crown CasinoBusiness

Crown crisis deepens as more heads roll

The Australian has reported that Crown Resorts CEO Ken Barton has agreed to resign his role following a meeting with chair Helen Coonan on Thursday.

It says the decision comes “amid criticism from the NSW and Victorian gaming regulators over his suitability in light of findings against him in the Bergin report.”

Barton was singled out in the Bergin report for failing to prevent money being laundered through company accounts.

Head of the NSW Gaming regulator Philip Crawford had also been calling for the resignation of Crown director Andrew Demetriou, who has finally bowed to pressure.

“I have always been a team player and supported the greater good,” Demetriou said in a statement. “I will therefore step down from the Crown Resorts board to give Crown the best possible chance of becoming suitable to the NSW Regulator.”

However Demetriou also said the comments directed toward him in the report were “unfair and unjust”.

James Packer’s private company, Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH) has cut all ties with the Crown board as the gaming giant fights to obtain a casino licence for its $2.2billion Sydney Barangaroo complex.

Crown made the shock announcement on Wednesday afternoon, confirming non-executive board member John Poynton’s consultancy arrangement with CPH had been terminated.

While Poynton will remain on the board and CPH still holds 36% of Crown’s shares, Packer will no longer have representation inside the casino operator’s boardroom.

Poynton was the last remaining CPH appointee sitting on Crown’s board, following the resignation of directors Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston earlier in the day.

The CPH executives resigned following the release of a NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority report that said Crown was not suitable to hold a gaming licence in NSW.

The report, which was tabled in state parliament on Tuesday said corporate “arrogance” was a driving factor in the company turning a blind eye to illegal money laundering within its Melbourne and Perth venues.

Crawford said the casino operator would need to “blow itself up” in order to meet the NSW licensing requirements, with significant changes to the board and senior management needing to occur.

Crown said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange: “Following the resignation of Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston as directors of Crown earlier today and the termination of the consultancy arrangement between CPH and John Poynton, CPH is no longer separately represented on the Crown board.”

The report said Packer’s influence over the casino operator had “disastrous consequences for the company”.

Crown shares were placed in a trading halt on the ASX yesterday, dropping almost 9% when the market opened this morning.

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