Crown Towers Sydney. Source: Crown Resorts
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  • Crown Resorts’ (CWN) Sydney casino has been barred from opening next month amid money laundering concerns
  • The New South Wales gaming regulator ruled today that the consumer discretionary giant was unfit to hold a gaming licence until a review is completed in February
  • Philip Crawford, Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), said the regulator was “uncomfortable” giving the licence the green light
  • Today’s decision follows months of investigation into Crown’s relationship with junket operators across its Melbourne and Perth casinos
  • Earlier this afternoon, Crown shares entered a trading halt
  • Before that, they were down a slight 0.62 per cent, worth $9.64

Crown Resorts’ (CWN) Sydney casino has been barred from opening next month amid money laundering concerns.

The New South Wales gaming regulator ruled today that the consumer discretionary giant was unfit to hold a gaming licence until a review is completed in February.

Philip Crawford, Chair of the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), said the regulator was “uncomfortable” giving the licence the green light.

The ILGA Chair went on to express his disappointment in the fact Crown had not proactively delayed the casino’s opening, stating “they are not picking up the vibe.”

Today’s decision follows months of investigation into Crown’s relationship with junket operators across its Melbourne and Perth casinos.

Commissioner Patricia Bergin is heading up the inquiry, and her final report examining whether the resort manager is fit to hold the licence isn’t due untilFebruary next year.

Late Tuesday night, Crown’s lawyers released a statement conceding it was “likely” that money laundering had occurred across two of its bank accounts.

“Crown accepts that there were funds deposited into the Riverbank and Southbank accounts that Initialism has found to be indicative of ‘cuckoo smurfing’— it is indicative of a form of money laundering,” Crown’s counsel Robert Craig, SC, said.

The statements mark a surprising about-face — previously, Crown’s legal team had urged Commissioner Bergin not to rule that money laundering had likely occurred.

“We had no notice that was being done, I don’t think the Bergin inquiry or counsel assisting were aware of it and it’s come at the eleventh hour, literally — apparently 11:00 last night,” Philip Crawford said today.

Crown’s $2.2 billion Barangaroo casino forms part of a larger entertainment precinct, comprising hotels, apartments and restaurants along the Sydney shoreline.

Earlier this afternoon, Crown shares entered a trading halt. Before that, they were down a slight 0.62 per cent, worth $9.64.

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