Crown Resorts is dealing with a public relations nightmare due to recent reports by 60 Minutes, The Age, and The Sydney Morning Herald. These media outlets examined tens of thousands of leaked emails from the gambling giant. According to their reports, the communications show links between Crown and sex trafficking rings, Communist officials, and Chinese crime bosses.

ABC’s Four Corners ran a similarly damning story in 2017 titled “Crown Confidential.” This report focused on the casino chain’s reliance on Chinese high rollers (despite the fact that promoting and conducting gambling is illegal in China). These individuals were counted on to drop millions of dollars on everything from poker to keno.

This comes on the heels of recent problems between Crown and the city of Sydney over the construction of the Barangaroo Casino Tower. So far, 2019 isn’t shaping up to be a banner year for the Melbourne-based company.

Border Troubles

Former Australian Border Force head Roman Quaedvlieg spoke with 60 Minutes about certain questionable practices. He claimed that a pair of government ministers, as well as a backbench MP, had urged him to make it easier for Chinese high rollers to enter the country on private flights.

“I spoke to a sitting member of parliament in addition to two ministers…indicating that Crown, and subsequently the junket operators that worked with Crown, weren’t receiving a facilitated service for private jets coming into Australia, into Perth and Melbourne, and were seeking some arrangements which smoothed out the processes there a little.”

It should be noted that Mr. Quaedvlieg was sacked last year after using his position to help his girlfriend get a job within his own department at the Sydney Airport.

Meanwhile, the Department of Home Affairs admitted that it has numerous arrangements to enable “quick visa processing of short-stay visas with a number of large international organisations.”

They claimed such an arrangement with Crown Casino came about in 2003 and ceased in 2016. However, no indication was given for why it ended.

The spokesperson added, “There is no reduced vetting in certain locations or for certain applicants.”

Luring Chinese Players

In 2016, 19 Crown staff were rounded up in China and charged with violating gambling laws within the Middle Kingdom. One of these individuals, Jenny Jiang, spent a month in a Chinese prison.

Jenny Jiang, a former Crown employee who was arrested by Chinese officials in 2016 for violation of the country's anti-gambling laws.

She told 60 Minutes her job included luring Chinese high rollers to Australia. She also claimed that Crown had offered her $60,000 to keep quiet about the activities. Ms. Jiang stated that members of the Aussie consulate in China made sure that Crown could get expedited visas for their foreign customers.

A Lurid Business

According to sources from The Age and The Herald, Crown also dealt with Chinese crime syndicates who controlled junkets. One of these organizations was cited as a leader in drug trafficking, as well as being involved in money laundering.

Sources also claimed that junket operators had Asian sex workers accompany Chinese high rollers on their flights into Australia. Since 2011, Crown has also partnered with Simon Pan. He is a Melbourne brothel owner whose establishment, 39 Tope, has been repeatedly investigated for possible sex trafficking violations.

Denying the Claims

Crown Resorts has denied any violation of Chinese law. They also cited their existing counter-terrorism and anti-money laundering programs that are currently in place.

The board of directors for Crown Resorts has also taken out full-page ads in most major Australian newspapers. The following are select quotes from the ad:

“As a Board, we are extremely concerned for our staff, shareholders and other stakeholders, as much of this unbalanced and sensationalized reporting is based on unsubstantiated allegations, exaggerations, unsupported connections and outright falsehoods.”

“It is deeply disappointing that the media involved in these inflammatory stories have not upheld the same principles.”

Meanwhile, billionaire James Packer has denied any knowledge of the alleged activities. He sold half his shares in the company earlier this year for $1.76 billion. According to his lawyer, he maintained nothing more than a “passive role” in events.

Political Pressure

Following these media reports, numerous politicians have urged some form of action. The Greens want a Senate inquiry to be held, while Labor has demanded an explanation of visa policies from Peter Dutton, Minister of Home Affairs.

On Tuesday, a motion was pushed in the House of Representatives for a government inquiry into Crown’s activities. However, the Coalition and Labor voted against it. While possibly unrelated, it should be noted that Helen Coonan, a former communications minister for the Liberal party, now serves as a director for Crown. In addition, former Labor operative Karl Bitar holds a senior corporate affairs position within the company’s hierarchy.

In Conclusion

While some heads may roll at Crown Resorts, it’s unlikely that any of their casinos are going to fold. In other words, it remains business as usual for players. And for those who might have qualms about doing business with the land-based juggernaut, you can always get your fix at an online establishment such as Joe Fortune.