As midnight approached on Tuesday, lawyers for Crown Resorts sent an email.
Attached were two reports which led to bad news for the company as it neared the opening of its $2.2 billion casino and resort at Barangaroo in Sydney’s Darling Harbour – which may no longer be able to operate as a casino.
Advisory firm Grant Thornton and anti-money laundering compliance solutions group Initialism had concluded evidence of money laundering could be seen in accounts of two Crown subsidiaries.
The email, and specifically its late night arrival at 11pm, didn’t impress former NSW Supreme Court judge Patricia Bergin, who said it was “incredible … this is happening in the middle of the night”.
“This material should have been produced last year or at the beginning in February when the material was summonsed,” she added.
RELATED: Porn pauses teen hacker’s hearing
Ms Bergin is chairing an inquiry by the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) seeking to determine whether Crown remains suitable to hold a restricted gaming licence in New South Wales.
The ILGA has now blocked the casino from opening on schedule.
It was slated to start opening on December 14, but the inquiry is not due to deliver its decision until February.
ILGA chair Philip Crawford said the Authority was “not comfortable” letting Crown operate gaming before the inquiry handed down its findings.
At 2.05pm on Wednesday, Crown announced a pause in trading of its shares on the ASX “pending a further announcement”.
A mere 38 minutes later it upgraded that trading pause to a halt.
At 5.03pm the market was informed the Crown “board has determined that gaming operations at Crown Sydney will not commence in December 2020”.
It said because the ILGA “deferred its consideration of a number of applications required for the commencement of gaming operations” until February, “Crown will continue to focus on opening the non-gaming operations at Crown Sydney”.
Those operations include 14 bars and restaurants, a 350-room hotel, and 82 “bespoke” luxury apartments.
James Packer has already paid $60 million for levels 48 and 49 of the 72-storey spiral tower, which was originally going to be six apartments.
Emails have already landed Mr Packer in trouble during the inquiry.
In October, he agreed the threatening emails he sent to an anonymous businessman were “shameful” and “disgraceful” and said it was due to bipolar that he’s now being treated for.
During the inquiry there have been calls for Mr Packer to be banned from associating with Crown, which he was formerly chairman and director of until resigning in 2018, citing “mental health issues”.
On Thursday morning Crown’s share price had sunk more than four per cent in early trade before rebounding to be down closer to two per cent by noon.
– With NCA NewsWire
Originally published as Late night email could cost $2.2bn