The New South Wales (NSW) government is reportedly to appeal against a decision by the Australian state’s Supreme Court that a local regulatory inquiry into Crown Resorts Ltd’s suitability for a Sydney casino licence does not have the power to see documents ordinarily regarded as legally-privileged.
The court’s original decision on February 11 followed an approach by Melco Resorts and Entertainment Ltd, an investor in Crown Resorts.
Melco Resorts had successfully argued that New South Wales’ Casino Control Act did not make it clear that the state’s casino regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), had the power – when convening an inquiry – to vest it with the same powers as an Australian Royal Commission.
The ILGA had said after the Supreme Court decision that it was considering “how it may impact the running of the inquiry”. The inquiry is due to begin public hearings on February 24.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported on Friday that a spokesperson for the New South Wales government had confirmed that afternoon that the state’s senior law officer, Attorney-General Mark Speakman, would appeal against the court’s decision.
Another media outlet, the Australian Financial Review newspaper had reported that Melco Resorts’ recent decision not to pursue purchase of a second tranche of shares in Crown Resorts, amounting to nearly 10 percent, meant that some Melco Resorts executives – ones that the latter firm had “put forward as potential Crown directors – will no longer need to be cleared by the probe”.
In its announcement stating it would not increase its stake in Crown Resorts beyond the existing circa 10 percent, Melco Resorts had said it also had decided not to seek representation on Crown Resorts’ board.
Crown Resorts runs a gaming complex in Melbourne, Victoria; one in Perth, Western Australia; and is developing a third at Barangaroo in Sydney, New South Wales.
Melco Resorts, is led by gaming entrepreneur Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, a son of Macau casino entrepreneur Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
Mr Stanley Ho’s name had previously been linked – according to publicly-available information – with local concerns in Australia that the businesses he founded had ties to Chinese organised crime.
The now-retired nonagenarian businessman has always denied such claims and has not been convicted of any offence relating to such allegations.
It had been expected that James Packer – a Crown Resorts founder and shareholder – and Mr Lawrence Ho, would attend the ILGA inquiry.
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