Victoria doubles funding for Crown Royal Commission after 'serious evidence' uncovered

Victoria doubles funding for Crown Royal Commission after 'serious evidence' uncovered

The Victorian Government has chipped in an additional $9.75 million for the Royal Commission into Crown Resorts (ASX: CWN), effectively doubling the scale of the probe due to the extent of evidence uncovered, including claims the company may have underpaid casino tax.

The state government has approved an increase in funding from $10 million to $19.75 million for the Royal Commission which was announced in February.

Royal Commissioner Raymond Finkelstein has also been given more time to examine the allegations of misconduct against Crown, with the investigation extended from 1 August to 21 October this year.

"Due to the seriousness of evidence produced through hearings and submissions to date, Commissioner Finkelstein is now investigating a wider range of matters," says a statement from the office of Acting Premier James Merlino.

"This relates to the corporate culture of Crown Melbourne, gambling harm minimisation, and claims brought forward in evidence so far, including allegations Crown Melbourne underpaid casino tax.

"Extending the timeframe of the Royal Commission will ensure the significant information provided regarding Crown Melbourne's suitability to hold the casino licence is examined thoroughly and appropriately."

The Victorian Royal Commission has heard evidence that criminal activity around money laundering may be more extensive than previously uncovered by last year's Bergin Report which found Crown unsuitable to hold a casino licence in NSW.

The evidence has heard that forensic analysis had uncovered numerous suspicious transactions across several Crown accounts, more than the two now closed accounts that were previously subject to money laundering allegations.

A report from Deloitte submitted to the Royal Commission found evidence of money laundering activity in up to 14 other crown accounts.

"The evidence we have seen coming out of the Royal Commission to date is significant," says Melissa Horne, Victoria's Minister for Consumer Affairs, Gaming and Liquor Regulation.

"We'll provide the commissioner with the resources and time required to complete this important work as requested."

A separate Royal Commission into Crown's activities at its Perth casino is also under way by the Western Australian Government. The report from that investigation is due to be handed down by June 30.

The Royal Commissions will determine Crown's suitability to hold a casino licence.

Crown has implemented a number of initiatives, including cashless casino transactions in its casinos, in response to the original findings of the Bergin Report.

In a response to the latest update, the group emphasised it continued to fully co-operate in relation to the Royal Commission.

"As executive chairman, I have made clear that any shortcomings identified by the Royal Commissions will be addressed. The Board and I are committed to making Crown a stronger, more transparent and company," executive chairman Helen Coonan said.

"We have initiated a sweeping program of significant reforms, enhancements and personnel changes. We cannot change the past, but we can be absolutely steadfast in the approach we take to driving the culture and transparency of the company into the future."

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