Ex-Casino Regulator Appoints Personal Attorney for Crown Case

Former regulator boss, Michael Connoly has appointed a legal team to represent him personally in the upcoming investigations into Crown Resorts. The allegations against Crown Resorts have been widely reported on, and amount to a gross breach of regulatory code, money laundering, and complicit affiliation with known criminals. Mr. Connoly who resigned from his post over the scandal is accused of giving preferential treatment to Crown staff and turning a blind eye to several warning signs.

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The investigation into Crown Resorts is reaching its final stages, investigators are now trying to determine the extent to which Crown benefited from its personal relationship with a high-level public official working in the casino regulatory agency of Western Australia. ©pattyjansen/Pixabay

The case against Crown Resorts is reaching its final stages as investigators circle in on a group of individuals it believes to be criminally culpable for the actions taken by the casino. James Packer the founder and ex CEO of the firm has virtually escaped any retribution thus far, but his firm is unlikely to come out of this unscathed.

With huge construction projects still in the pipeline, there has been a desperate rush to attract external investors. Keeping the company afloat in such difficult market conditions presented a major set of challenges in itself, and with the onset of regulatory investigations, the business has all but ground to a halt for the casino.

An investment firm from the United States has already expressed interest in purchasing the fledgling casino brand. Blackstone has submitted a $6.2 billion bid for Crown Resorts as the firm seeks to find fresh capital to maintain its current operating posture. Selling off to an international investment group though is not the path that many insiders anticipated. With James Packer staunchly defending the actions his casino has taken in the past 12 months, all possibilities remain on the table.

What Was the Nature of Relationship Between Mr. Connoly and Crown Resorts Leadership?

At the very center of this controversy is the alleged claim that Crown Resorts have received favorable treatment, and avoided scrutiny from regulators over their nefarious acts because they had coerced the regulators charged with keeping a watch over them. Mr. Connoly the former chief regulator for casinos in Western Australia now occupies a completely different role and is working for the Department of Local Government, Sport and Culture.

It was revealed following an independent investigation that Mr. Connoly would keep company with some of Australia’s key figures at the Crown Resorts hierarchy. After the nature of this relationship came to light, Mr. Connoly was forced to resign from his post at the regulator. The media has been relentless in their scrutiny over this case, and they have really been pushing the narrative that something nefarious was at play with Crown Resorts and their apparent regulatory immunity despite a series of systematic failings at the casino.

The regulatory manager was accused of having personal relationships with two Crown Resorts staff, in particular, those being Hulme and Marais. In his defense, Mr. Connoly has said that these associations were merely personal, not related to the business of the regulatory authorities or the casino and that the two Crown Resorts individuals in question did not hold any serious authority at the casino.

Despite the seemingly innocent nature of the relationship, many critics are calling these relationships inappropriate. Ultimately, Mr Connoly was responsible for approving or refusing license applications from new casinos in Australia. Amongst his other responsibilities was the oversight of key decision-makers at Australia’s biggest casinos, his position now untenable has been taken over by Mark Beecroft.

Crown and Mr Connoly Brace for Royal Commission Investigation

In what is being billed as the first Royal Commission investigation to take place in Australia for over 20 years, Mr. Connoly and Crown are preparing with their respective legal counsel and bracing for what the inquiry might unearth. At the core of the investigation will be the question of whether or not Mr. Connoly was corrupted by Crown Resorts and hindered from properly discharging his functions and responsibilities as an independent adjudicator of the casino business.

When the allegations came to light around the Crown Resorts’ money laundering activities orchestrated by a group of rogue junket operators it appears the scandal ran a lot deeper than initially thought. After the investigation took the cover off the surface of this scandal there have been numerous milestones in the case, most notably the implication of several high-level regulatory officials that acted as enablers for the criminals to go on without any repercussions.

The end goal of the commission will be to reach the bottom of two specific matters affecting the regulation of Crown. The first will be to determine whether or not Crown Resorts is a fitting holder of a license in the state, and the second being whether they violated the existing regulations that were in place throughout the state. The commission is due to update the courts on its findings by June, with the final verdict delivered before the end of the year.

Australians have been shocked by this blatant cronyism within the casino business, as the country was reeling from a pandemic it has left a sour taste in the mouth of its citizens. The huge Barangaroo casino still remains dormant, and depending on how the courts decide could become blow a massive hole in the finances of groups invested in its opening.

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