Western Australia Probe Findings Could Imperil Ex-Crown Boss

February 4, 2022
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A barrister representing former top Crown Resorts executive Barry Felstead has objected to provisional findings of Western Australia state’s probe into Crown Perth that could see him prosecuted and even jailed.

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A barrister representing former top Crown Resorts executive Barry Felstead has objected to provisional findings of Western Australia state’s probe into Crown Perth that could see him prosecuted and even jailed.

Interim findings of the state’s Royal Commission into Crown’s Perth casino contain seven elements that could fuel a prosecution of the former CEO of Crown’s Australian casinos, according to Joanne Shepard, Felstead’s advocate in the probe.

Shepard told the Royal Commission on Wednesday (February 2) that Felstead opposes each of the findings, particularly that he knowingly placed Crown’s China-based staff at risk of arrest five years ago and another that he misled the state’s Gaming and Wagering Commission.

The Royal Commission’s provisional findings have not been released to the public, but counsel for witnesses have received copies for comment.

Shepard said the findings would make Felstead vulnerable to prosecution under the national Corporations Act for breaches of board responsibility, or prosecution under the state’s Gaming and Wagering Commission Act for deliberately or recklessly misleading the gaming regulator, the online WAtoday daily reported.

Felstead has also appeared before the New South Wales state government Bergin Inquiry into Crown’s Sydney operations and the Victoria state Royal Commission into Crown Melbourne, which both investigated company culpability for the jailing of 16 Crown staff and conviction of three others.

No member or former member of Crown’s board or senior management has suffered prosecution as a result of these probes.

This is despite a long list of compliance failures and admissions of irresponsible conduct — even “disgraceful” conduct in the case of leading shareholder and former chairman James Packer — as well as severe fiscal and reputational damage inflicted on Crown, now the target of a Blackstone Group takeover.

Other than a number of ongoing federal regulatory probes, the Western Australian Royal Commission is the last major investigation into the company, but Shepard’s comments suggest the findings of its three commissioners could be forceful enough to further imperil other Crown-linked individuals.

The Royal Commission is due to deliver its final report to the state government by March 4.

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