Crown signals retreat from tour partners after ‘junkets’ scandal
22 Aug 2019

Australian casino giant, Crown Resorts, has signalled it may reduce its reliance on Chinese “junket” operators as multiple investigations begin probing revelations it used recruiting firms connected to drug runners and other suspected criminals to lure cashed-up foreign gamblers.

Crown on Wednesday also defended its due diligence and oversight of its business partners, with executive chairman John Alexander saying the company was “not a law enforcement agency”.

The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and 60 Minutes last month revealed Crown had partnered with “junket” operators with alleged links to organised crime and foreign influence agents.

Asked if Crown – which operates casinos in Melbourne and Perth and is building another at Sydney’s Barangaroo – had uncovered any of that information with its own checks, Mr Alexander said “the obvious answer is no”.

“We rely on all other law enforcing agencies to provide us with background checks and the like,” he said.

“Any time we do any checking at all that produces something unfavourable, that person or entity is barred from being a customer.”

He would not comment further on why Crown had not uncovered the at-times publicly available information linking its partners to organised crime while inquiries in NSW and Victoria into the revelation were underway.

Chinese and Hong Kong court files show that one of Crown’s junket partners, Tom Zhou, is an alleged criminal fugitive and the subject of an Interpol “red notice” for financial crime.

The Hong Kong Jockey Club has banned another partner, Suncity, because of alleged links to criminal gangs, while local Crown junket partner and VVIP (very, very important person) Simon Pan runs a brothel in Melbourne which has been linked to organised crime and investigated for suspected human trafficking.

Mr Alexander said Crown engaged anti-money laundering consultants Initialism in December last year to review its monitoring programs, and it found Crown was fully compliant.

By Patrick Hatch and Nick Toscano, The Age, 21 August 2019

Read more at The Age

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