Two days after a blistering NSW Independent Casino Commission (NICC) report into the goings on at The Star Entertainment Group (ASX: SGR) was released, the casino’s interim chairman Ben Heap has published an “unreserved” apology to the people of New South Wales.
Having reflected on the contents and findings of the NICC report prepared by Adam Bell SC which found The Star unsuitable to hold a casino licence, Heap has noted the need for robust governance and greater accountability.
Heap said the casino and resorts company would implement a comprehensive remediation plan to not only fix issues raised in the report, but to examine and address their root causes.
"I accept that there have been times we’ve been arrogant and closed off to criticism. That will not be the case in the future," Heap said.
"I recognise that we won’t by judged by our words, but by our actions. You have my commitment, and that of my fellow directors and senior management team, that we will do everything in our power to make the necessary improvements."
That NICC Report found The Star exposed its operations to key risks including money laundering, allowing criminals to gamble in its casinos, and the infiltration by organised crime while paying ‘scant regard to proper harm minimisation criteria’.
NICC chief commissioner Philip Crawford said earlier this week that there were signs The Star is slow in making the necessary changes despite mass resignations from the board and its senior management ranks.
Following the release of the report, the group was given 14 days to show cause as to why it shouldn’t face disciplinary action, and to save its casino licence in the process.
Heap acknowledged it was clear from the report that the company's culture needed to be fundamentally transformed.
"We need more transparency, more robust governance, and greater accountability," he said.
"At its heart, we need to be a workplace where our team members feel free to raise concerns, where we have open and honest dialogue with our regulators and Independent Monitor, and where our leadership is both vigilant and listens when concerns are raised. We need to ask not only “Can we?”, but “Should we?”, and act swiftly where there is an issue."
He cited examples of action taken to date as part of the company's renewal plan include introducing stronger controls, enhancing regulatory compliance functions and training, adding new members to the board, rebuilding the senior leadership team, separating risk and legal functions, hiring a new chief risk officer, and voluntarily appointing an Independent Monitor to oversee progress.
"We acknowledge there is much more to be done and we will do it working constructively and transparently with the NSW Independent Casino Commission, our other regulators, and our Independent Monitor," he said.
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