Vic Crown inquiry to probe China arrests

The Victorian royal commission into gaming giant Crown’s Melbourne operations is slated to open public hearings by examining the arrests of staff in China.

The $10 million inquiry, being chaired by former Federal Court judge Raymond Finkelstein QC, has outlined topics it plans to cover as part of the first week of public hearings from Monday.

It will focus on Victoria’s gambling regulator’s monitoring of Crown, including its investigation into the 2016 arrests of 19 staff across four Chinese cities.

All were later charged with gambling promotion offences, and the arrests remain the subject an ongoing class action against Crown.

Crown’s junket operations will also be examined after the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation last month fined the Southbank casino a record $1 million over vetting failures.

In 2019 media reports, it was alleged that Crown junket operators brought in high-rolling gamblers from China with links to organised crime.

The revelations led to the establishment of the Bergin inquiry in NSW, which in February found Crown unfit to run a casino at its newly built Barangaroo complex in Sydney.

The long-running NSW inquiry also found the company facilitated money laundering at its Melbourne and Perth casinos, and put staff in China in danger of being detained.

Royal commissions are also under way into Crown’s casino licences in Melbourne and Perth, while the federal financial crimes watchdog is undertaking an inquiry into casino junket tours.

Written submissions to the Victorian royal commission closed on April 26 and Mr Finkelstein has been given until August 1 to report back to the government with recommendations.

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