Roman Quaedvlieg is to be the first witness in the public hearings into Crown corruption allegations. The former head of the Australian border force will answer questions into the agency’s treatment of Crown VIPs.
The Australian Law Enforcement Integrity Commissioner Michael Griffin heads the hearings taking place in Melbourne this week. Current border force deputy commissioner Mandy Newton and Peta Dunn will, along with Quaedvlieg, be under the spotlight.
Quaedvlieg claims he was lobbied by a member of parliament and two ministers to smooth the way through border security for Crown’s Chinese high rollers. This mirrors allegations aimed at Crown, resulting in these hearings.
These hearings are the first the Australian Commission for Law Enforcement Integrity (ACLEI) has held publicly in its 13-year history. They come during the same week of Crown Resorts’ annual general meeting where directors will come under scrutiny from shareholders.
Sydney barrister David McLure SC is backing Griffin in the meetings that start Tuesday. The initial schedule pens Friday as the final day, although the hearing could run longer. Griffin said the heatings “will examine the extent to which interactions between the Department of Home Affairs and Crown Casino raise issues of corruption.”
Quaedvlieg will be the first under the microscope. The former head of the Australian border force lost his job on March 2018 following a nine-month disciplinary investigation. He lost his job after bending the rules to help a junior staff member get a job at Sydney Airport. The staff member and Quaedvlieg were in a relationship at the time. Quaedvlieg continues to strenuously deny the allegations that cost him his job.
He received his $618,000 per year salary while placed on indefinite leave. Quaedevlieg chose not to resign as he saw it as an admission of guilt.
The ACLEI is one of six agencies investigating Crown’s affairs currently. Victoria Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation is looking into two allegations. One is based on the jailing of 19 Crown employees for promoting gambling in China. They were jailed in 2016 following claims they employed junkets to bring well-heeled VIPs to Crown properties.
Investigation number two was supposed to report back within three weeks about the allegations Crown has links to Triad gangs, organised safe passage into Australia for VIPs and more.
The regulator said in its annual report, “The investigation remains ongoing while the VCGLR endeavours to collect any additional relevant information and evidence.”
Even more hearings are taking place into the fitness of Crown to hold a licence in New South Wales. Crown is currently constructing a massive casino complex in Barangaroo but the recent allegations have brought their suitability into question.
The NSW Independent Liquor & Gaming Authority is also investigating Crown. It wants clarification on James Packer’s sale of 20% of his Crown stock to Melco. Lawrence Ho, son of Stanley Ho, wons Melco. Stanley Ho and members of his family are banned from any involvement in the Barangaroo development.
Fresh allegations came last week when a former Crown employee claimed Chinese VIPs never go through customs. The whistleblower used to drive for Crown and claims one gambler brought 15 cases with him on a private flight.
“Not one of those cases was checked. God knows what was in those bags, certainly, customs didn’t know what was in those bags.”
VIPs often illegal requests are fulfilled by Crown staff, according to the whistleblower. MPs Andrew Wilkie and Fiona Patten believe the former employee and have demanded a thorough investigation
Then there are the new claims Crown allowed a convicted arms dealer to blow $6 million at its casinos. The UN banned Joseph Wong Kiia Tia from travelling yet managed to spend time in Melbourne and Perth.