Crown encourages employees to speak out as CEO probe launched

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Gaming giant Crown Resorts has urged its employees to speak up about improper conduct after launching an investigation into chief executive Ciaran Carruthers over allegations he intervened to allow patrons to gamble even though they had been blocked by security.

Crown wrote to employees on Wednesday confirming it had engaged a legal firm to investigate two separate allegations that Carruthers intervened to allow blocked patrons onto the gaming room floor, and asking them to come forward with any other allegations.

Crown chief executive Ciaran Carruthers is facing allegations he intervened to allowed blocked patron to gamble.Credit: Tash Sorensen

One source, who asked not to be named to discuss confidential details, said the first alleged incident is said to have occurred on November 25, when Carruthers is claimed to have allowed an intoxicated woman to access the venue’s gaming floor.

A second investigation, which was detailed in a report published by The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday and confirmed by the source, has been launched into an incident in which Carruthers allegedly intervened last month to reinstate access for a patron who was previously given a one-year ban for bringing a minor into the gaming area.

In a letter obtained by The Age, Crown’s chief legal and compliance officer, Anthony Pearl, says Crown is committed to supporting and encouraging its employees to come forward with concerns about misconduct.

“As an organisation, we are committed to supporting and encouraging our team members to speak up as well as promote actions and behaviour that align with our code of conduct and company values,” Pearl says in the letter.

“It’s for this reason that in accordance with our governance protocols, we have engaged external counsel to conduct an independent review of the matters raised within these reports.”

The reassurance comes amid claims from Crown security staff that they are being prevented from doing their job.

The concerns were voiced in a petition circulating in recent weeks calling on the casino’s owner, New York-based private equity firm Blackstone, to support security employees in doing their jobs.

According to sources familiar with the document but speaking anonymously due to restrictions of their employment, the petition also asks for an apology from Carruthers.

“Security officers do one of the hardest jobs at Crown and they deserve an apology,” said Victorian Security Union secretary Robert Szuhan, who worked at Crown for 13 years before being terminated from his role.

“It is concerning that the top representative of Blackstone has circumvented front-line employees doing their jobs to protect the casino and its licence.”

Carruthers was named chief executive in September 2022. He was charged with ensuring that Crown maintained its licences, which have been under review since the 2021 Finkelstein Royal Commission revealed extensive governance failings. This masthead does not suggest the security guards’ allegations are true, only that they are now under investigation.

A spokesman for Crown Resorts said an external counsel had been engaged in accordance with Crown’s governance protocols to review the allegations. “Until such time the review is complete, we are unable to comment further,” the spokesman said.

Ray Finkelstein, QC.Credit: Andrew Meares

The review was initiated by Crown Resorts’ directors.

Carruthers is a three-decade veteran of the casino industry. He was previously the chief operating officer of Wynn Casino in Macau and is known for being a hands-on executive who is often seen walking the floor of the casino.

The state government set up a special monitor to ensure Crown was making progress with the reform program put in place following the royal commission, which contained an extensive list of recommendations, including the introduction of mandatory pre-commitment cards forcing players to set binding limits on losses and time spent gambling.

The monitor, the Office of the Special Manager, said on Wednesday it was aware of the Crown investigation into Carruthers and would monitor progress.

The Victorian Gambling and Casino Control Commission (VGCCC) said it was “actively investigating” after becoming previously aware of a minor being allowed onto the premises.

“The VGCCC will review the outcome of Crown’s investigation before determining what, if any, further regulatory action may be taken,” the statement said.

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