SYDNEY, Nov 11 (Reuters) - A lawyer for billionaire James
Packer dismissed claims the founder of Australia's Crown Resorts
Ltd had undue influence over the casino company, saying
that as an ex-board member he was not accountable for corporate
Packer, Crown's 36% owner who quit its board in 2018, had a
deal where the company gave him frequent trading updates and
Packer gave "advice", but that did not amount to running it from
the sidelines, his lawyer, Noel Hutley, told a regulatory
The summing-up remarks show Packer's camp distancing the
high-profile business figure from a litany of alleged management
missteps described in months of hearings, just as Crown seeks to
keep its casino licence a month before opening a A$2.2 billion
($1.6 billion) resort in Sydney.
Lawyers running the inquiry have questioned whether Crown
should retain its licence, saying the 2016 jailing of 16 Crown
staff in China for breaching anti-gambling laws resulted from
Packer's influence. They have recommended finding Packer
unsuitable to be an associate of a casino, and forcing him to
cut his stake.
"They seek to attribute at least some of the blame for the
apparent failings of Crown Resorts to Mr Packer," Hutley said.
"This is unwarranted and an unfair characterisation of Mr
Packer's role, which is simply not supported by the evidence."
When Packer testified, he acknowledged the company failed to
act on warnings about staff safety, but "a lot of things that he
had seen or heard in this inquiry had been a total shock to
him", Hutley said.
He said lawyers for the inquiry had produced emails between
Packer and Crown's top management to argue he ran the company
despite holding no formal role, but that Packer was just giving
advice which the company was free to reject.
The retired judge overseeing the inquiry, Patricia Bergin,
said Packer appeared "angry" in some emails, suggesting the
relationship was "more than just proffering some business
"He was a shareholder, and a large one," said Hutley. "He
was interested, at a personal level, in the outcome. That
doesn't mean he's in a position of control."
The hearing continues.
($1 = 1.3729 Australian dollars)
(Reporting by Byron Kaye; editing by Richard Pullin)