Australia

Australian government orders investigation into Crown Casino controversy

0:00

The Attorney-General has ordered an internal investigation into allegations of misconduct by Commonwealth officials linked to the Crown Casino scandal.

A national integrity watchdog will investigate allegations of corruption involving Crown Casino, following claims Australian consulate officials fast-tracked visa applications for big-spending gamblers flying in from China.

There are also allegations Crown laundered large sums of money through its Melbourne gaming venue, which the company strongly rejects.

Attorney-General Christian Porter has referred allegations involving Crown and government agencies to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

"There are sufficient concerns to warrant at least further investigations," Mr Porter told parliament on Tuesday.

Attorney-General Christian Porter referred Crown allegations to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.
Attorney-General Christian Porter referred Crown allegations to the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity.

He said the government took allegations of wrongdoing by members of law enforcement, immigration and customs seriously.

"They, of course as the part of the broader Australian law enforcement community, hold very privileged positions," Mr Porter said.

"And as such, are expected to uphold the highest standards of integrity and professionalism."

ACLEI is only able to investigate law enforcement agencies including police, Home Affairs and Border Force officials.

If wrongdoing by Crown employees is uncovered, the watchdog will refer it to federal police.

Nine News outlets on Tuesday reported Crown had a 'hot-line' arrangement with the immigration department to fast-track applications for short-stay visas through Australia's consulates and embassies.

The revelation led Foreign Minister Marise Payne to warn Australian embassies and consulates must not be used for inappropriate or nefarious purposes.

"I would always say that Australia's posts should be used in an appropriate way, in a lawful way and observing all requirements and regulations in our work," she told Sky News.

Crown Casino has denied allegations it worked with people linked to Chinese organised crime.
Crown Casino has denied allegations it worked with people linked to Chinese organised crime.
Pixabay

The government insists the past deal it struck with Crown Resorts to fast-track short-stay visa applications for clients did not involve any special treatment.

The short-stay visas arrangement involving Crown's clients began in 2003 under the Howard coalition government and continued under the Gillard Labor government in 2011, but ended in 2016, Nine reported.

Crown executives could also be hauled before a parliamentary inquiry, with the Greens hopeful of winning support from Labor to send the affair to a committee for scrutiny.

If the inquiry gets up, Greens senator Nick McKim is also keen to bring former border force boss Roman Quaedvlieg.

Greens Senator Nick McKim is calling for a parliamentary inquiry.
Greens Senator Nick McKim is calling for a parliamentary inquiry.
AAP

Senator McKim wants the official to be granted parliamentary privilege, giving him protection to name two ministers and an MP he claims helped smooth out border security for Crown's big gamblers.

Independent Tasmanian MP Andrew Wilkie also wants a parliamentary inquiry, although his motion in the lower house is expected to fail.

Victorian Premier Daniel Andrews said no company, including Crown, was above the law.

"Crown is the biggest single-site employer in the state, they are a significant outfit ... but no one gets a free pass on the legislative requirements, on integrity and probity," he told reporters.

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch