HomeFixing Crown’s woes ‘not rocket science’, new chair Ziggy Switkowski says

Fixing Crown’s woes ‘not rocket science’, new chair Ziggy Switkowski says

New chair Ziggy Switkowski has told a royal commission examining Crown Resorts’ affairs the company’s compliance issues can still be fixed.

Crown Resorts’ new chair, Ziggy Switkowski, says repairing the company amid inquiries into the casino operator in three states “is not rocket science”.

Mr Switkowski told the royal commission examining Crown Perth’s operations that he took on the role of chair two months ago with a feeling of optimism Crown’s problems could be fixed.

Last year, the damning Bergin inquiry in NSW found Crown was unfit to hold a licence for its new $2.2bn casino in Sydney, after evidence the James Packer-backed company had been infiltrated by organised crime and had facilitated money laundering.

It sparked separate inquiries into Crown operations in Perth and also Melbourne, which is due to deliver its findings on Tuesday.

“The fact that Crown has been found lacking in areas of compliance is an unfortunate state of affairs,” Mr Switkowski told the commission on Monday.

“They’ve acknowledged that they have those sorts of issues, but they are issues that I’ve seen elsewhere in the banking system, in financial services, for example, that can be broken up into digestible pieces, remediated, brought back together again in a reasonable period of time.

“Over the last couple of years, the boards of this country have had to deal with a number of things that were unexpected or move more quickly than they had thought.”

Putting aside Covid-related challenges, compliance had emerged as a major issue, where regulators have worked faster than corporations, “so gaps have appeared”, he said.

“It’s not rocket science. I think all of these things can be identified, chunked up, fixed, reassembled and you’ll have a great company,” Mr Switkowski said.

“Your optimism about the potential to remediate comes from your experience that generally compliance issues are able to be remediated?” asked counsel assisting the inquiry, Patricia Cahill SC.

“I think not just compliance, but any number of issues, yes,” Mr Switkowski replied.

However, he expressed concern about the cost to the company of addressing the issues raised by the inquiry simultaneously.

“I’m not concerned about the potential to remediate. I am concerned by how much has to be done at the same time,” he said, adding “it will certainly cost a lot more”.

“It is hard because a lot of people are working very hard, but it’s all within the capability of competent people to execute,” he said.

Mr Switkowski told the inquiry cultural change would start at the top, with every new recruit “a critical decision”.

He believed in 12 months’ time, the organisation will have restored trust with regulators and hopefully recovered its reputation.

“We should have restored trust with our regulators, that’s really important,” he said, acknowledging the inquiries into Crown Perth and Melbourne were yet to release their findings.

Mr Switkowski also imagined an “organisation largely free and recognisably free from the previous generation”.

“Personnel who are part of the historical issues are unlikely to successfully transition into the new organisation,” he said.

“I do think cultural change will start at the top. It will be reinforced through continuous training. It will require an appropriately designed remuneration and reward system and all of those things are being considered and developed as we speak.”

The commission is examining Crown Perth’s operations and existing regulatory frameworks to establish if Crown Perth is fit to continue holding its casino gaming licence.

The Bergin report found Crown had enabled or facilitated money laundering at its Perth casino through its Riverbank account and at its Melbourne venue through its Southbank account, which sparked a separate royal commission heard earlier this year.


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