Crown Resorts, Money Laundering Allegations and Visas for Wealthy Chinese Punters
It’s not often we get to write a headline like this.
We’re sure no one is surprised to hear that Crown Casino tried to lure high rolling Asian gamblers to their casinos.
What we find astounding is that the government has ordered an investigation into the Commonwealth Authorities that granted the Visas and Crown Casino, primarily targeted at events that happened in 2016.
From the Dow Jones Newswire yesterday:
“Australia’s government has ordered a probe into casino company Crown Resorts over allegations of money laundering and favourable treatment by officials in granting visas for wealthy Chinese bettors.”
The Attorney-General Christian Porter has asked the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity – charged with oversight of law enforcement agencies – to look into Crown and make “precautionary” recommendations on whether to launch a full investigation into the company.
Don’t get us wrong, and it is unacceptable to have criminal links for any ASX listed company or any enterprise for that matter.
Moreover, it was devastating for those 18 Crown employees who were detained in mainland China in 2016 – this was one of the reasons Crown sold down their stake in the Macau gaming market.
It was widely reported in the media at that time – Malcolm Turnbull was Prime Minister, and Bill Shorten was Opposition Leader. We also saw Nick Xenophon and Andrew Wilkie on the TV condemning the situation – rightly so.
But the clamouring for media attention and moral outrage that is now on display for events that happened three years ago is quite astonishing – talk about a slow news week…!
Crown has rejected any allegations of illegality which they believe are ill-informed, and “will co-operate fully with any investigation”.
We don’t condone any form of illegal behaviour, but we are also acutely aware of the different methods of business in some other countries, and that is a risk of doing business in some of those countries.
Although we’re not expecting Crown to break any records when they announce their full-year results soon, their focus on domestic assets in Melbourne and Perth, and the proposed development of Crown Sydney (the Barangaroo Project) should offer some support for the share price.
The slide in the price of Crown shares from $12.80 to $11.90 has them now placed firmly back on our radar.
Experience tells us from the banking royal commission that this is likely to be a storm in a teacup.
So, we will be watching it, and waiting to see what happens.
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