Crown director gave no thought to Ho link

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    <p>Controversial billionaire businessman Stanley Ho was meant to have no involvement in Crown Resorts or its proposed new Sydney casino.</p> <p>But a Crown board director gave no thought to that when Mr Ho’s son, Lawrence Ho, agreed to buy one fifth of the company.</p> <p>Advertising guru Harold Mitchell, a Crown director since 2011, told an inquiry on Friday he “never thought in one aspect at all about Mr Stanley Ho in all of this”.</p> <p>The NSW gaming regulator is investigating whether Crown is suitable to operate a new casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo, partly because of the transaction.</p> <p>Mr Mitchell agreed that he knew the prohibition on dealing with Stanley Ho was a condition of the Barangaroo licence and that it was “very important” to ensure those undertakings were met but said he assumed lawyers would have scrutinised the deal.</p> <p>The inquiry has been told previously that other Crown directors did not look closely at Stanley Ho’s interest in Melco Resorts, which acquired Crown shares from the private company of majority shareholder James Packer.</p> <p>Subsequent to the dealings, Macau casino mogul Stanley Ho died in May.</p> <p>The Sydney inquiry has exposed serious issues in Crown’s corporate governance, including important information not reaching the board and a profit-driven culture leading to high risk.</p> <p>Mr Mitchell said on Friday he did not know the company had staff on the ground in China before they were arrested and 우리카지노계열 detained over alleged violations of local anti-gambling laws.</p> <p>He insisted the company’s bonus system for executives, which rewards strong financial performance, did not encourage people to conceal important information.</p> <p>Mr Mitchell also conceded he took no steps to investigate two bank accounts alleged in media reporting last year to have been used for 우리카지노계열 money laundering, assuming that management were investigating.</p> <p>”It is the curiosity of the directors to look at these things that is necessary, isn’t it?” inquiry commissioner Patricia Bergin asked.</p> <p>Counsel assisting the inquiry, Scott Aspinall, quizzed Mr Mitchell on whether he was a truly independent director.</p> <p>Mr Mitchell relayed how Kerry Packer loaned him $9 million after Mr Mitchell’s investment in Queensland’s Big Banana went south amid the early-1990s recession.</p> <p>”What was I thinking, what was I thinking? Never invest in things you know nothing about,” Mr Mitchell said.</p> <p>The other shareholders had “disappeared into the banana fields” leaving Mr Mitchell liable for 우리카지노계열 loans worth $32 million, he told the inquiry.</p> <p>Kerry Packer, a friend, heard Mr Mitchell was in financial trouble and offered him a no-strings-attached loan, 메리트카지노 which Mr Mitchell eventually repaid.</p> <p>Mr Packer’s son James later appointed Mr Mitchell to the Crown board.</p> <p>But Mr Mitchell denied on Friday that he felt he owed the Packer family a favour.</p> <p>He also denied a court’s findings that he breached his Tennis Australia directors’ duties by sharing information with a third party meant he should quit Crown’s board.</p> <p>Crown is being examined for its fitness to operate the new casino amid allegations it partnered with controversial “junket operators” which had links to organised crime.</p> <p>James Packer gave evidence over three days earlier this week, describing involvement in the inquiry as “a terribly painful and shocking experience for the board, as it has been for me”.</p> <p>The inquiry is due to continue on Monday, with Crown board member and former AFL boss Andrew Demetriou to give evidence.</p></div>

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