Ken Barton Resigns as Crown CEO Amidst Fraud Scandal

The Crown Resorts saga appears to be a perpetual tale of shady business practices and poor decision making at the highest levels. In the newest revelation on this story, the Chief Executive Officer of the casino, Ken Barton, has resigned from his post. The casino chief resigned following the release of a scathing report into the company’s operations, with particular attention placed on the shocking accusations that Crown has facilitated money laundering and has ties with the mafia.

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Crown Resorts will be subject to highly-focused audits to try and establish the extent of criminal activity, but to also ascertain whether money-laundering activities are running rife across the firm’s properties. ©stevepb/Pixabay

Amidst mounting pressure from the media, company staff, and investors, the head of the executive board, CEO Ken Barton has stepped down from his post. The CEO announced his resignation on Monday following a series of accusations of money laundering, mafia ties, and other criminal activities at its Melbourne and Perth venues.

The chairwoman Hellen Coonan will now be tasked with restructuring the board following the departure of its CEO. But many are calling for the whole leadership to be ousted. Investors in Crown Resorts are reportedly furious with the way the internal investigations have been handled over the past couple of months. One report claims that the ousted CEO showed a remarkable lack of care or consideration of any of the accusations being brought against his firm over the past year.

Crown Resorts, one of the biggest gambling and betting brands in Australia, runs a large portfolio of casinos across the country and has enjoyed plenty of success over the past decades. This momentum abruptly came to a halt though when the firm was rocked by scathing reports of systemic money laundering at the firm. This culminated in the local regulator, New South Wales Liquor and Gambling Authority recommending that the firm face extreme retrospective punishment for these crimes. The pinnacle of which was the withdrawal of the Barangaroo Casino Sydney operating license.

Barton Showed Terrible Lack of Concern

When a company is rocked by a scandal on the scale that Crown has endured, the very least one could expect from the leadership hierarchy would be their full attention and care to steer the company through the crisis. Unfortunately for Crown, their Chief Executive Officer couldn’t bring calm to the turmoil, and when his limited efforts at re-stabilizing the company failed, he demonstrated a tremendous lack of vigor or care to make things better.

The retired judge who presided over the investigative report into the practices at Crown, Patricia Bergin, has already derided Crown throughout the course of this inquiry. Bergin accused Crown Resorts of having a poor corporate culture and deficient aptitude for risk management. In order for the company to pick itself up and rekindle some of the innovative cultures that allowed it to become so successful, it would have to undergo major reforms.

The accusations are mounting against Crown Resorts, and each round of investigations seems to uncover a whole new plot, with levels of nefariousness raising at the same rate. Bergin has already openly accused Crown of having back-channel links to the mafia and claimed that the recently-resigned CEO Ken Barton showed a shocking lack of concern at clear pieces of evidence linking Crown with criminal activities and money laundering.

The criticisms of Ken Barton appear to be completely warranted for the time being. His involvement and influence over the corporate culture at Crown is undisputed. After serving as the company’s Chief Financial Officer for over a decade he would have been directly involved in many key decisions that led the casino down this unsavory path. Of course, Crown is still a company under the watchful stewardship of James Packer, as the majority shareholder he has been facing serious questioning over his knowledge of criminal activity at the firm.

Crown Taking Steps to Reform Itself

Under the new chairman Helen Coonan, Crown Resorts will begin to take reformative steps and clean up its act. Or so this is what the firm has been telling reporters and investigative lawyers over the past few months. As is the case with this firm though, many of the promises are not being kept – and if they are truly serious about reforming their governance, compliance, and culture vulnerabilities, then a large overhaul is sorely needed.

They are now on a tentative path where the firm is still a legal entity with the rights that are enjoyed with that. Operating across Australia without restrictions is something that they will be able to continue for the time being, but new venues in Sydney are unlikely to receive the license approval they need to get off the ground. At least for the foreseeable future. Until that day comes the firm will have to shoulder huge liabilities without the revenue and cash flow to offset them.

The Australian Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (AUSTRAC) is the main financial intelligence organization operating throughout Australia. They are tasked with fighting the illegal activities in the country, along with money laundering and organized crime. AUSTRAC has been pioneers in pushing casinos in the country to clean up their act, the agency has been very vocal in the past regarding the need for casinos to do much more to resist criminals seeking to use casinos for nefarious purposes. 

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