|Bid||69.64 x 0|
|Ask||69.76 x 0|
|Day's range||69.08 - 69.82|
|52-week range||53.44 - 91.05|
|Beta (5Y monthly)||0.66|
|PE ratio (TTM)||13.30|
|Earnings date||12 Aug 2020|
|Forward dividend & yield||2.98 (4.28%)|
|Ex-dividend date||19 Aug 2020|
|1y target est||73.17|
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Why did it take media reporting to get Australia’s money laundering investigators to start looking into casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd.?Shares in the gambling company previously controlled by billionaire James Packer slumped 8.2% Monday after it said the country’s financial-crimes regulator Austrac had started a probe into the handling of “high risk and politically exposed” individuals at its Melbourne casino. The investigation started two months after Nine Entertainment Co. newspapers published a series of articles about the activities of high-rolling Chinese gamblers at Crown’s properties.It’s the latest in a string of prominent cases led by Austrac, after a A$45 million ($32 million) award against racetrack betting operator Tabcorp Holdings Ltd. in 2017, a A$700 million penalty against Commonwealth Bank of Australia in 2018, and a A$1.3 billion settlement with Westpac Banking Corp. last month.That’s quite a turnaround. For much of its 31-year history, Austrac has been a pretty somnolent organization, tending its ballooning database of suspicious transactions reported by compliance officers without carrying out much of the aggressive enforcement that you might expect. Just look back at the cases that Austrac has brought over the years. Until recently, the majority of actions involved nickel-and-dime businesses like a pub in southern Brisbane or a cafe in western Sydney.That’s clearly not going to do the job. Money laundering, by its nature, requires moving large volumes of either physical or digital cash. That means regulators need to be laser-focused on the activities of the companies that trade the largest volumes of those assets — casinos, in the case of notes and coins, and financial businesses, in the case of electronic transactions.“Until recently they were showing all the symptoms of a regulator who’d been captured by the industry they were supposed to regulate,” John Chevis, an independent anti-money laundering consultant, said by phone. The string of recent cases shows that things have at last started to change. Paul Jevtovic, a former police officer who took over at Austrac in 2014 before joining HSBC Plc’s compliance department in 2017, pushed the regulator toward a more proactive culture and kicked off the Tabcorp and the Commonwealth Bank investigations. Still, it’s clear that the agency is some way from being as aggressive as it should be. Last year’s media reports aren’t the first time that public accusations about money laundering breaches have been made against Crown. Independent legislator Andrew Wilkie in 2017 told parliament that casino staff exploited loopholes to avoid disclosing reportable transactions to Austrac (Crown denied the claims).Better funding and collaboration with other agencies would probably help. The number of suspicious transactions reported to Austrac has more than tripled over the past five years, but funding from government and its own paid-for activities is only up by about a third. As it is, the regulator’s relatively small staff is stretched to sort through all the information they’re receiving. Extracting legal penalties from large companies is even more expensive.Meanwhile, criminals aren’t standing still. The latest avenue for money laundering is probably over- and under-invoicing of traded goods, but that’s even harder to track. Unlike cash laundering, which involves a relatively small number of casinos and financial businesses, invoice-based laundering can take place between almost any two companies in the world.Austrac’s gradual shift toward a more active stance in recent years is welcome, but it will need to go still further. If you want to hunt rats, it’s no good hanging out in your kitchen. Going down into the sewers may be a thankless task, but it’s the only way to get the job done.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.
Investors can approximate the average market return by buying an index fund. But if you buy individual stocks, you can...
(Bloomberg Opinion) -- Rockers Van Halen had an infamous way of spotting problems when they were setting up for live gigs.Tour riders at concerts would request bowls of M&Ms backstage with all the brown candies removed. Rather than a symptom of rock-‘n’-roll excess, the demand was a test for venue managers setting up the band’s elaborate shows, according to vocalist David Lee Roth. If brown M&Ms were present, it was a signal that electrical, audio and safety issues might have been skimped on, too.There’s a lesson in that for David Murray, the veteran Australian banker who resigned Monday as chairman of ailing fund manager AMP Ltd.Murray is a former chief executive officer of Commonwealth Bank of Australia and author of a 2014 official report into the country’s financial system. He was brought in just over two years ago as part of a board clean-out to address scandals arising from a government inquiry by High Court judge Kenneth Hayne, including charging life insurance fees to dead people and lying to the corporate regulator. Murray has been brought down by his insouciant approach to an entirely different outrage: reports in the Australian Financial Review that an executive who’d seen his bonus docked after settling a sexual harassment complaint had been promoted to head AMP’s investment management unit. Director John Fraser will also leave, AMP said Monday, and the company’s Australia boss quit without explanation last month.For several years, Murray has used his position as a lion of the country’s financial industry to oppose regulators seeking to draw links between general misconduct and their core oversight activities.A push by government agencies to more closely scrutinize the internal behavior of companies was overreach that would lessen competition because “you can’t regulate for culture,” he said shortly before starting at AMP. “The distinctive culture of one organization is part of its competitive advantage,” he argued in 2016.Let’s set aside what the current case and resulting internal revolt among employees say about AMP’s “distinctive culture” and the extent to which it’s a competitive advantage. The lasting lesson should be that regulators tasked with ensuring a stable and honest corporate sector are quite right to take a holistic view of the way a company runs itself, by peeking into the metaphorical M&Ms bowl for tell-tale signs of bad behavior. After all, the real test of a company isn’t so much whether sexual harassment occurs in the workplace, but how management handles it. A company that promotes someone whose pay was reportedly docked A$500,000 ($358,000) in settlement of a case involving a subordinate isn’t sending a message that women are valued. Nor is it signaling that credible complaints from lower-ranking employees will provoke any introspection. Instead, it’s telling those with qualms about internal practices that their worries will more likely be quashed and ignored.That’s precisely the cultural problem running through the Australian financial services industry. Quite apart from the practices revealed in the Hayne Royal Commission and the current sexual harassment case, there have been other examples involving breach of money-laundering laws by Commonwealth Bank and Westpac Banking Corp. and attempts to manipulate the country’s lending-rate benchmark.The symptoms of the rot look similar in multiple cases: turning a blind eye to misconduct; giving more credibility to those viewed as “profit centers”; a lack of scrutiny by boards and management; dishonesty and obfuscation when caught out. Regulators are quite right to be keeping more of an eye on these sorts of issues. Murray's fate is a powerful demonstration of his own myopia in opposing that sort of oversight.His replacement as chairman will be Debra Hazelton, who had previously worked in Tokyo to shake up the global corporate culture of Mizuho Financial Group Inc. That’s likely to be key to her success in the years ahead.The dinosaurs who tried to wall off the internal practices of Australia’s financial industry as a private matter that regulators had no business investigating have had their day. Businesses that don’t behave with integrity in the future will quickly lose the trust of both their customers, and their staff.This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.David Fickling is a Bloomberg Opinion columnist covering commodities, as well as industrial and consumer companies. He has been a reporter for Bloomberg News, Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, the Financial Times and the Guardian.For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinionSubscribe now to stay ahead with the most trusted business news source.©2020 Bloomberg L.P.