Crown sale of shares to Melco facing accusations of regulatory breach

As the inquiry before former Supreme Court Judge Paddy Bergin got underway on Tuesday, Crown Resorts faced accusations that its failure to alert authorities about the sale of shares to Melco Resorts & Entertainment before the deal was announced publicly may have constituted a breach of the terms of its New South Wales casino license.

Last May, Melco agreed to buy a nearly 20 percent stake in Crown Resorts for A$1.75 billion (about US$1.2 billion) just two years after the Australian company had withdrawn from a decade-long venture with the Macau-based operator.

At an initial hearing on Tuesday, it was argued that Crown’s failure to alert regulators about the Melco deal had opened up questions about Crown’s continued suitability as a casino operator.

As expected, both Lawrence Ho and James Packer were on the list of witnesses to be called during the course of the high-stakes inquiry. Crown Resorts’ casino license for its location in Sydney’s Barangaroo hangs in the balance.

James Packer announced earlier this month that the multi-billion dollar Barangaroo development is now scheduled to open at Christmas 2020, presuming that the license is issued.