Packer said he was ill
James Packer, former executive chairman of Crown Resorts, admitted during a government inquiry to threatening a person with whom he was working to take the company private in 2015. While under oath via video link in the New South Wales (NSW) inquiry hearing, Packer acknowledged that his behavior in the e-mails to someone only known as “Mr. X” was both “shameful” and “disgraceful.”
While the specifics of the e-mails have not been divulged to the public, Packer said that it “came as a surprise” to him that he could have frightened Mr. X with his threats. Packer also could not remember if he was a director of Crown Resorts when he sent the e-mails (he was).
admitted that he should have told shareholders about his medical issues
When asked how the NSW gambling regulator can have “confidence” in his character when he let loose threats over e-mail, Packer responded that he was “sick at the time,” adding that he has bi-polar disorder.
He admitted that he should have told shareholders about his medical issues and that he is currently being treated. Packer still owns 37% of Crown.
Invoked the name of Mossad operative
The e-mails between Mr. X and another person from “Company Z” named “Mr. Y,” had to do with a possible AU$400m (US$286m) deal to take Crown Resorts private. It currently trades under the ticker symbol CWN.AX on the Australian Securities Exchange.
Packer’s attorney, Noel Hutley, did not want the e-mails shown to the inquiry for the sake of fairness.
in our submission there is no public interest in disclosing them”
“These communications took place at a state of deep personal crisis of my client, the matters if you look at them are matters that will be reflective of that and in our submission there is no public interest in disclosing them,” Hutley said.
The hearing was paused for a while so that Packer’s teams and counsel for the inquiry could hold a closed session with the judge to discuss whether or not the 13 e-mails in question should be released.
Though the complete contents of the e-mails were not revealed, the Sydney Morning Herald reports that the threats made mention of someone connected to Mossad, Israel’s national intelligence agency, and that person’s ability to intimidate Mr. X.
Regulator evaluating Crown’s license
The months-long inquiry revolves around Crown Resorts’ suitability to hold its license for its casino in the Barangaroo area of Sydney, scheduled to open in December. Though Packer is no longer with the company, he still looms large because of his stake in Crown.
Also front in center in the inquiry is the business Crown did with Chinese junket operators linked to organized crime. Crown even setup an unofficial offices in a “semi-residential” building in the Guangzhou province in order to hide its operations.
Packer said he did not authorize the secret office, but admitted that it was a “significant failure” of compliance.
Junkets originating from China have been linked to money laundering at Crown Resorts.