Australia's Crown Resorts director quits over ties to billionaire shareholder

FILE PHOTO: The Crown Casino complex is pictured in Melbourne March 19, 2016. REUTERS/Jason Reed/File Photo

(Reuters) – Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd said on Monday that director John Poynton quit the board after a regulator ruled he was insufficiently independent of the company’s biggest shareholder, James Packer.

Poynton’s departure is the latest in a string of executive exits at the casino operator that is one-third owned by billionaire Packer, after an inquiry accused it of widespread money laundering and governance issues.

Poynton was on Crown’s board since 2018 as a representative of Packer’s private company. After a regulator rebuked Packer’s control over the board, Poynton said last month that he was ending his arrangement with Packer and would stay as an independent director.

But on Monday Crown Executive Chair Helen Coonan said the regulator, the Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA), considered it appropriate that Poynton step down “due to a perceived lack of independence arising out of his past relationship” with Packer.

Poynton agreed to resign “despite no adverse findings by the commissioner in the ILGA inquiry in relation to his suitability, integrity or performance”, Coonan said.

Three Australian states have either held or said they would hold inquiries into Crown since Australian media reports accused the company of doing business with tour operators with ties to organised crime.

Crown initially denied the allegations but admitted at the Sydney inquiry in 2020 that some of the claims were true.

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