Casino en­lists former top cop

The Australian - - FRONT PAGE - STEVE JACKSON NSW ED­I­TOR

One of the na­tion’s most dis­tin­guished po­lice of­fi­cers, former NSW deputy com­mis­sioner Nick Kal­das, has been hired by Crown Re­sorts to re­view its an­ti­money-laun­der­ing and coun­tert­er­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing com­pli­ance pro­cesses and bol­ster the casino gi­ant’s pub­lic im­age.

The ap­point­ment comes on the eve of a spe­cial in­quiry that will de­ter­mine whether it is fit to hold a casino li­cence at its $2.4bn Baranga­roo de­vel­op­ment on Syd­ney’s Darling Har­bour. Mr Kal­das will re­port di­rectly to its risk man­age­ment com­mit­tee as a se­nior con­sul­tant.

The un­prece­dented in­quiry — to be held by the NSW In­de­pen­dent Liquor and Gam­ing Author­ity — is sched­uled to com­mence on Jan­uary 21 and will de­ter­mine whether gam­ing ty­coon James Packer’s pri­vate com­pany, Con­sol­i­dated Press Hold­ings, can pro­ceed with its pro­posed $1.76bn sale of al­most 20 per cent of Crown to Hong Kong bil­lion­aire Lawrence Ho’s Melco Group.

Con­firm­ing Mr Kal­das’s ap­point­ment on Tues­day, Crown board mem­ber and risk man­age­ment com­mit­tee chair Jane Halton said the 61-year-old former of­fi­cer would prove a vi­tal as­set to the group and paid credit to his il­lus­tri­ous polic­ing ca­reer, which in­cluded eight years with the Aus­tralian Na­tional Coun­terT­er­ror­ism Com­mit­tee and a sec­ond­ment to Le­banon in 2009 to in­ves­ti­gate the as­sas­si­na­tion of the coun­try’s former prime min­is­ter, Rafic Hariri.

“Mr Kal­das has ex­ten­sive ex­pe­ri­ence in state, na­tional and in­ter­na­tional law en­force­ment span­ning more than 35 years,” Ms Halton told The Aus­tralian.

“In his new role, Mr Kal­das will pro­vide in­de­pen­dent ad­vice to the Crown Re­sorts board through the risk man­age­ment com­mit­tee.

“We are com­mit­ted to the con­tin­ued im­prove­ment of our pro­cesses and sys­tems in ev­ery re­spect, in­clud­ing in

re­la­tion to anti-money-laun­der­ing and counter-ter­ror­ism fi­nanc­ing com­pli­ance, which ex­tends to the way in which we work with law en­force­ment and reg­u­la­tory agen­cies. Mr Kal­das’s in­sights should pro­vide an­other di­men­sion to these pro­cesses.”

Mr Kal­das told The Aus­tralian he wel­comed the op­por­tu­nity to work with Crown, adding that the stature of the role demon­strated the im­por­tance Crown placed on im­prov­ing its com­pli­ance pro­cesses and riskmit­i­ga­tion sys­tems.

“Just as I have done through­out my law en­force­ment ca­reer, I will pro­vide Crown with frank and fear­less ad­vice as to how pro­cesses can be op­ti­mised, and how to work most closely with law en­force­ment and reg­u­la­tory agen­cies at the state, fed­eral and in­ter­na­tional level,” he said. “Crown and all casi­nos need to work with and re­ceive as much in­for­ma­tion as legally pos­si­ble from law en­force­ment to en­sure they are work­ing in uni­son to pro­tect the in­tegrity of their op­er­a­tions.

“To this end, I will work as closely as pos­si­ble with Crown man­age­ment, the board, reg­u­la­tors and law en­force­ment bod­ies.”

Just three years ago, Mr Kal­das was a fron­trun­ner to re­place out­go­ing NSW po­lice com­mis­sioner An­thony Sci­p­i­one in the state’s top law en­force­ment job be­fore a fiery feud with fel­low deputy Cather­ine Burn saw both of­fi­cers leave the force.

Crown would not be drawn on the tim­ing of Mr Kal­das’s ap­point­ment in re­la­tion to the in­quiry, with a spokesman say­ing: “Out of re­spect for the ILGA in­quiry and its pro­cesses, Crown does not in­tend to com­ment at this time.”

Un­der its terms of ref­er­ence, the ILGA in­quiry, to be over­seen by former NSW Supreme Court judge Pa­tri­cia Ber­gin, will ex­am­ine Mr Ho’s suit­abil­ity to be a share­holder in Crown fol­low­ing rev­e­la­tions in the NSW par­lia­ment about his on­go­ing links to his fa­ther, Stan­ley, who is banned from be­ing li­censed to run a casino in Aus­tralia be­cause of his al­leged ties to or­gan­ised crime.

If she finds Crown or its NSW sub­sidiary is not fit to hold the Baranga­roo li­cence, she must then con­sider “what, if any, changes would be re­quired to ren­der those per­sons suit­able”.

The in­quiry will also ex­am­ine se­ri­ous al­le­ga­tions by Nine news­pa­pers about Crown’s ties to money-laun­der­ing op­er­a­tions, hu­man traf­fick­ers and or­gan­ised crime groups. It is un­der­stood Mr Kal­das was not hired in re­sponse to those spe­cific al­le­ga­tions but as a part of a wider view within

Crown that it needed to re­in­force its com­pli­ance sys­tems in line with com­mu­nity ex­pec­ta­tions.

Mr Packer, whose for­tune is val­ued at $4.23bn, has not been called be­fore the in­quiry but last week told The Aus­tralian: “If I am re­quested to ap­pear then I will ab­so­lutely make my­self avail­able.”

A Crown spokesman said the com­pany op­er­ated in one of the most highly reg­u­lated in­dus­tries in Aus­tralia and had a his­tory of work­ing closely with law en­force­ment, re­ceiv­ing more than 1800 re­quests for in­for­ma­tion and footage in 2019 alone.

Mr Packer’s sale of 20 per cent of Crown to Mr Ho was an­nounced last May and rep­re­sents al­most half of the Aus­tralian busi­ness­man’s stake.

Half the shares have al­ready been trans­ferred to Mr Ho but the bal­ance of the deal has been sus­pended un­til all reg­u­la­tors com­plete their in­ves­ti­ga­tions.

Kal­das

NIKKI SHORT

Former NSW po­lice deputy com­mis­sioner Nick Kal­das at Baranga­roo on Tues­day

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