Crown Resorts has been accused misleading investors about possible anti-money laundering breaches in a second class action filed against the casino giant.
Class action law firm Maurice Blackburn alleges Crown misled investors about the company’s compliance with anti-money laundering laws for nearly six years.
Australia’s financial crime watchdog announced in October it was investigating potential counter-terrorism financing and anti-money laundering breaches linked to Crown’s Melbourne operations.
Maurice Blackburn now claims the company made misleading representations about its compliance with its legal obligations and kept relevant information from the market between December 2014 until the AUSTRAC investigation was announced.
In a class action lodged with Victoria’s Supreme Court, the law firm says Crown acted contrary to shareholders’ interests.
Maurice Blackburn is seeking a court order that the company buy shares back from affected investors.
“We are asking the court not just to award compensation where appropriate,” principal lawyer Miranda Nagy said on Monday.
“But also to consider requiring Crown to buy back investors’ shares at a fair value and to implement a proper anti-money laundering training program delivered by an accredited professional, so this conduct never recurs.”
Sydney-based lead plaintiff, Greg Lieberman, said he “didn’t expect to be investing in a cowboy outfit”.
“It’s been very disappointing to learn how badly Crown has behaved. The company held itself out as a good corporate citizen and has let a lot of us down,” Mr Lieberman said.
In a statement, Crown acknowledged the class action.
It’s the second such action against the casino giant.
Maurice Blackburn is still pursuing an unrelated claim on behalf of investors about Crown’s market disclosures relating to the detention of 19 of its employees in China in 2016.
The company is also facing trouble in NSW.
Internal emails were last month aired at an Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority inquiry, showing Crown rebuffed a recommendation by its own executive to investigate money laundering allegations revealed in media reports.
This was because of advice from law firm Minter Ellison that any report would not be covered by legal privilege and may have to be produced to the inquiry.
Crown also admitted it was more likely than not that two of the company’s bank accounts had been used to launder money.
It is set to learn in February whether it’s considered fit to run a new casino at Sydney’s Barangaroo.