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Former Crown Resorts chairman John Alexander to stand down from board as suitability inquiry continues

Former Executive Chairman John Alexander has told an inquiry into the suitability of Crown Resorts to hold a NSW casino license that he plans to step down from the company’s board at its upcoming annual general meeting.

Alexander’s impending departure comes after he copped a grilling from counsel assisting the inquiry last week over alleged failures of Crown’s risk and compliance measures related to anti-money laundering concerns.

Admitting that he was responsible for shortcomings in Crown’s AML controls, Alexander – who stepped down as Executive Chairman in January – replied, “Yes, that’s correct,” when asked by counsel if it was true he planned to quit the board at this month’s AGM, scheduled for 22 October 2020.

The veteran director and close confidante of Crown’s largest shareholder, James Packer, had earlier admitted taking “no direct steps” to make sure the company was fulfilling its AML obligations.

“I made the presumption that those obligations were being met,” Alexander said, referencing allegations that Crown was unaware of large scale deposits and transfers being made in junket rooms within its own casinos.

The inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a casino license in NSW – where it is due to open its new AU$2.2 billion Crown Sydney on 14 December – was first announced last year following media reports alleging Crown’s junket partners had links to organized crime,

It was also set to examine the planned sale of a 19.99% stake in Crown to Melco Resorts & Entertainment until Melco backed out of the deal and sold off its existing stake earlier this year.

Crown also revealed last week that it was suspending all junket play until 30 June 2020 to undertake an internal review of its processes related to junkets, although given international travel restrictions due to COVID-19 it is unlikely the suspension will have any impact on VIP revenues.

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