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Crown Resorts CEO out as chair promises reform

Crown Resorts CEO and board director Ken Barton has become the highest-profile sacrifice in the wake of a scathing review of the casino giant.

Mr Barton agreed to resign after meeting with company chair Helen Coonan on Thursday, The Australian reports.

The chief executive had been under pressure after a damning inquiry report made findings against him, leading the NSW regulator to suggest he had to go.

The Victorian regulator had also asked him to explain why he was still suitable to be associated with Crown’s Melbourne casino.

Fellow Crown director Andrew Demetriou also tendered his resignation on Thursday, The Australian reported, saying in a statement he was stepping down “to give Crown the best possible chance of becoming suitable to the NSW regulator”.

“In taking this decision I believe the comments directed at me in the report are unfair and unjust and I will defend my reputation at every opportunity,” he said.

Crown is promising “root and branch” changes to satisfy the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority, which is threatening to deny it a Sydney gaming licence.

Crown chair Helen Coonan acknowledged on Thursday the report into the group’s activity that found “serious conduct, culture and compliance issues that clearly do not accord with our values”.

“While we have already taken a number of important steps to improve our governance, compliance and culture, I recognise from the commissioner’s report we have much more to do,” she said.

“We do not underestimate the scale of the problem and appreciate there is a need for ‘root and branch’ change. This change has commenced.”

On top of Mr Barton and Mr Demetriou, two directors aligned to majority shareholder and non-director James Packer have quit Crown’s board after the inquiry also criticised the billionaire.

As chief financial officer, Mr Barton lobbied for bank accounts to stay open despite knowing of concerns money was being laundered through them. He also misled shareholders about an information-sharing agreement with Mr Packer.


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