Flooded with questions Crown’s annual meeting

Oliver Noah

The gambling empire of Crown Resort is on fire for quite some time already. There have been several disagreements going on within the inner kitchen of the empire, rolled by James Packer, who together with the other shareholders have protest votes against two directors, the Minerals Council Helen Coonan and media guru Harold Mitchell. The votes were demonstrated on the annual meeting dominated by questions about a wave of scandals threatening to overrun the group. Both of the Authorities have recently been accused in some actions, such as misbehavior as well as inappropriate collaborations. 

The company nearly came to earning a strike against its remuneration report 25% vote against but was saved by Packer, who is 37% owner of the Crown. The meeting was not of the easy ones as the spokespeople had to tackle several core issues that have been raised mainly by the anti-gambling activist Tim Castello. The questions mainly addressed the allegations of favorable treatment of high-rollers as well as commits crimes in organizing high-roller junkets. The questions about one of the shareholders of the Crown also did not stay apart, as the 10% owner of the Crown is Lawrence Ho, who is convicted in several crimes and is generally banned from the Barangaroo license project. 

Shareholders 

Melco, a company that is led by already mentioned Lawrence Ho, attempted to buy almost 20% of Crown, though the attempt failed as the authorities of New South Wales have opened an investigation concerning the Ho’s family. Stanley, father of Lawrence is banned from any kind of involvement with Crown’s project over allegations. Stanley has been accused of illegal actions but has always denied the blame and any type of link to organized crime triads. 

In the company such as Crown, there are several employees who have been working for the company and Packer’s family for decades already. Castello and Mayne did not let this opportunity away and flooded Alexander who is a two-decade history employee with questions on his continuing role as an executive chairman. The role is a long abolished in most of the companies for the sake of independence and having a non-executive chair, which is not the case with the Crown, and apparently was a valid background for the questioning. 

Apparently, two-decades of working for a company have not gone without a stain, and so attacking “a number of sensationalist and unproven claims made, with many focused on allegations from over five years ago.”

The Meeting 

The situation of the company is most unlikely to improve within the following next weeks, which was made obvious in the meeting. Moreover, Roman Quaedvlieg who is a former Australian Border Force boss is supposed to have the public hearing held as part of at least four different investigations into allegations surrounding Crown. The position is not the best as Roman is believed to be involved in the allegations such as illegal actions in collaboration with Chinese high-rollers as well as money- laundering. 

Talking about money laundering, the revenue of the company is nearly $2billion, which is very lucrative but some of the sources of the revenue are unknown. Although, the fact that the company has a favorable treatment from the government is very much known, as they are paying much lower taxes than their opponent companies in the market. 

Chinese casino gambling crackdown has affected international casinos. In 2016, 19 of the Crown employees were arrested and imprisoned for promoting gambling, which is pretty much illegal in China. 

Parroting 

There were several topics touched on the meeting, but none of them seemed to be resolved even partially. Some of the attendees claimed that the Crown was the most regulated companies in Australia, which was further tagged as a parroting. 

The truth about this business is that the field is very hard to predict, especially over a short period of time. 

“As to the vote, I read very carefully the proxy advice and it appears the vote you refer to has nothing to do with my workload and has something to do with the audit and governance committee and the ratio of audit to non-audit fees,” said Coonan who collected almost 23% of votes against her. She is the chairperson of the audit and governance committee. Last year the company paid big four accounting firm EY about $1.5m to audit the company, as well as an additional $4m for other services, mostly tax advice.

“Some people do not like what they claim to be high fixed remuneration, and I think when you look through most Australian companies it’s not that high in any rate,” the comment was made by the Crown director Geoff Dixon, chair of the company’s remuneration committee.