In Australia and the Asian casino giant leader, Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited, is reportedly scheduled to participate in an official inquiry into the planned purchase of nearly 20 percent stake in the local gambling company, Crown Resorts Limited, by his client.
According to a report from Inside Asian Gaming, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung serves as Chairman and Chief Executive Officer for the casino operator based in Hong Kong and is to be questioned by the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority from next month on whether the deal envisaged could constitute a’ breach’ of the gambling licence of Crown Resorts.
Sydney-listed Crown Resorts Limited is responsible for the Crown Perth venue in Western Australia as well as Victoria’s giant Crown Melbourne and signed off on a $1.2 billion deal in May to allow its largest shareholder, CPH Crown Holdings Proprietary Limited, to discharge a 19.9 percent stake in its business to Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited.
Officials in New South Wales, however, have reportedly launched an investigation into this agreement in August to determine the exact relationship between Ho and his father, Macau casino magnate Stanley Ho Hung Sun, who is 98. Formerly, the elder Ho was barred from investing in Australia’s casinos amid allegations, which he has consistently refuted, that he had developed his gambling empire through ties with organised crime groups.
The younger Ho reportedly told Inside Asian Gaming: “Both Crown Resorts Limited and I have always stressed that my business dealings are independent of my father’s interests. We have already been in partnership with Crown Resorts Limited for twelve years and have passed probity screens from regulators without an issue.”
Crown Resorts is also constructing its casino-friendly Crown Sydney hotel in central Sydney’s Barangaroo harbour area, and expects the 350-room venue to start welcoming guests from next year. The operator has reportedly described repeatedly any allegations that he or any of his associates have been involved in money laundering or other crimes as’ outright falsehoods.’
For its part, the controversial Australian billionaire businessman, James Packer, controls CPH Crown Holdings Proprietary Limited, and the 52-year-old has also reportedly agreed to appear before the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority to answer questions about the planned share deal.
The investigation of the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is led by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge, Patricia Bergin, and she reportedly claimed that her office had approached’ relevant Crown parties and other parties’ to seek information and documents relating to the ongoing investigation. She reportedly further clarified that the regulator had given approximately 35 summons so far and received approximately 58,000 documents to help with the investigation, which she expects to begin from February 24.