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Crown Resorts said that a recent barrage of attacks in the media related to its Chinese VIP program were “unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods.” (Image: Crown Resorts)
Crown’s share prices plummeted 7.7 percent on Monday and Tuesday in the wake of a documentary exposing allegedly untoward links with triad-connected junket operators, although they have since slightly rallied.
Among the allegations posed by Australia’s Channel Nine’s 60 Minutes show – and in subsequent reporting by newspapers owned by Nine Entertainment – was that Crown turned a blind eye to criminal elements within Macau-based junket groups that facilitated trips for Chinese high rollers to its Australian casinos.
Reports also claimed that Crown permitted money laundering while exploiting weaknesses in the Australian visa system to fast-track high rollers into the country without the appropriate checks and balances.
60 Minutes said its reporting was based on thousands of leaked internal Crown documents.
But in its newspaper advertisement, which was signed by individual members of the Crown board, the company claimed that “much of this unbalanced and sensationalized reporting is based on unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods.”
Much was sought to be made in the programme of the conduct of ‘Crown’s junket operators,’ it continued. “In fact, the junkets are not Crown’s. They are independent operators who arrange for their customers to visit many casinos globally. Crown deals with junkets and their customers in essentially the same way as other international casinos.”
Moreover, Crown emphasized that the Macau junkets are licensed and regulated by authorities in Macau, while casino regulators in Australia and elsewhere also vet their operations and their relationships with domestic casino operators.
Crown also has its own vetting process for the junkets, which includes probity, integrity, and police checks, as well as regular reviews of their operations.
Never Heard of ‘The Company’
Addressing specific examples of “poor or misleading journalism,” Crown noted 60 Minutes claimed that Chinese President Xi Jinping’s cousin, Ming Chai, was found on Crown’s private jet by Australian law enforcement authorities investigating money laundering, when, in fact, the jet was neither owned nor chartered by the company.
Meanwhile, 60 Minutes aired surveillance footage from 2012 that showed a man called Roy Moo allegedly receiving a bag stuffed with cash at a vegetable market. Moo worked for a junket operation that did business with Crown, and in December 2013, was convicted of money laundering.
But Crown says there was no mention in the documentary that Moo was excluded from the Crown Melbourne of its own volition “more than six years ago.”
Moo was alleged by 60 Minutes to be working for a triad conglomerate called “The Company,” washing drug money through Crown Melbourne.
Crown notes that while there are extensive references in the 60 Minutes show to its own alleged criminal connections to “the Company,” it has had “no dealings or knowledge of any organisation of that name or description.”
Although not mentioned by Crown, casino security footage of Moo depositing the money at the cage, which is alleged to have come from the bag switch at the vegetable market, clearly shows him filling out a currency transaction report (CTR), which suggests Crown is complying with anti-money laundering procedures.
Lastly, Crown asserts it has never “sought to circumvent visa requirements or compromise any process of identification or verification for immigration purposes.”
Australia’s Department of Home Affairs (DHA) has acknowledged that, from 2002 to 2016, it had an agreement in place with Crown to “facilitate quick visa processing of short-stay visas” for its high-net-worth clients, as it did with many international tourism companies.
Crown emphasized that it is a global tourism operator that makes a “major contribution to the Australian economy.”
Following the 60 Minutes report, Australia’s attorney general Christian Porter ordered the Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (CLEI) to launch an investigation into whether Crown conspired with the DHA to bring known criminals into the country to gamble.