The depletion of The Star Entertainment Group’s (ASX: SGR) executive ranks has worsened with the announcement today that Geoff Hogg has resigned as acting CEO after less than three months in the role.
The move also comes just days ahead of the final report from a Queensland commission of inquiry last month into the group’s casino operations at Brisbane and the Gold Coast. The report is expected to be handed to the Queensland Attorney-General by 30 September 2022.
The Star says Hogg, who was appointed in June and has held senior executive roles at the company for more than 13 years, has tendered his resignation as acting CEO and all other positions at company.
While Hogg’s final departure date is yet to be determined, chairman Ben Heap will step into the executive chair role until incoming CEO Robbie Cooke assumes the CEO’s position as planned later this year.
The Star has yet to finalise a start date for Cooke, who is currently managing director of Tyro Payments (ASX: TYR), leaving an executive vacuum for The Star in the wake of mass resignations from the board and senior ranks earlier this year.
The resignations came in the wake of the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority’s review of The Star’s suitability to hold a casino licence that found significant failures which exposed the group to the risk of money laundering activities.
Former CEO Mat Bekier and long-time chairman John O’Neill were among the biggest scalps from the ILGA inquiry, which also led to the resignations of former CFO Harry Theodore, former chief NSW casino officer Greg Hawkins and former chief legal and risk officer and company secretary Paula Martin.
Hogg’s evidence to the Queensland inquiry last month offered further evidence of concern for the authorities after he revealed a person banned from gambling at NSW and Queensland casinos for 15 years had been subsequently allowed to gamble at the company’s Queensland properties.
The report on the ILGA review, released by the NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) earlier this month, was accompanied by a blistering attack on The Star by NICC chief commissioner Philip Crawford who was concerned that despite the weight of damning evidence exposed during the NSW inquiry that nothing had changed at the casino group. Crawford highlighted Hogg’s evidence to the Queensland inquiry among the reasons for his expressed opinion.
Prior to being appointed acting CEO of The Star, Hogg was group executive of operations and before that he was managing director of the company’s Queensland operations for more than a decade.
The Star says Hogg will work with the board to transition his executive responsibilities ‘in an orderly manner’.
Heap has declined to receive additional remuneration for filling in as executive chairman. Meanwhile, The Star says it will let the market know when Cooke is likely to take the reins once a date has been finalised.
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