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Crown banned from opening $2.2b Sydney casino in December

Lucy Dean
·2-min read
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - JULY 21: A Marr contracting crane is dismantled atop the new Crown Sydney tower at Barangaroo on July 21, 2020 in Sydney, Australia. A highly-skilled team of riggers from Sydney crane company Marr Contracting (The Men from Marr's) worked 300m above Sydney to remove the crane that has been perched above Crown Sydney for the past two years. Marr's specially-designed M390D crane has been climbing skywards with Crown Sydney’s 75-floor skyscraper and since the 'topping out' of the 271-metre high building, the Marr machinery has been occupying the highest vantage point in the city - approx 50m higher than the top of the tower. (Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Marr Contracting)
(Photo by James D. Morgan/Getty Images for Marr Contracting)

Crown Resorts has been called on to delay the December opening of its $2.2 billion casino in Sydney’s Barangaroo precinct.

In a statement on Wednesday afternoon, the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) said it wants to wait until its explosive inquiry into Crown delivers its report in late January or early February 2021.

The inquiry today heard that money had likely been laundered through two of Crown’s bank accounts, sending Crown Resorts into a trading halt.

The two Riverbank and Southbank accounts had been the key focus of the ILGA inquiry after media reports alleged money laundering. Banks including ANZ also raised concerns over the casino’s activities and its use of the accounts.

ANZ in 2014 contacted Crown to warn that it had seen several large cash deposits into the Riverbank account across different bank branches, which was a sign of money laundering.

Inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin also blasted Crown for providing expert reports on the money laundering at 11pm on Tuesday.

"When we talk about money laundering, what does that really mean? It basically means proceeds of crime," ILGA chair Philip Crawford said.

"We are hopeful that Crown Resorts will agree to our request to postpone opening of all gaming activities, which would be unable to begin without approval of these regulatory matters.”

Crown also admitted to failings in its anti-money laundering systems but said it was improving.

Crawford said he didn’t believe the James Packer-backed business was “picking up the vibe” of the inquiry, and that there was a “lot of serious stuff going around”.

The casino has been mired in controversy since 2016 when 16 staff were jailed in China for violating anti-gambling laws.

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