Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited suffers Australian defeat

In Australia and the Attorney General for New South Wales, Mark Speakman, has reportedly won his legal appeal to force casino operator Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited to hand over a selection of confidential company documents.

According to a report from The Sydney Morning Herald newspaper, the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority is currently investigating the Hong Kong-headquartered firm as part of a wide-ranging examination into whether local compatriot Crown Resorts Limited is fit to keep the gambling license for its soon-to-open Crown Sydney facility.

Crown concerns:

This inquiry was reportedly initiated after Crown Resorts Limited announced plans that were to see Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited purchase an almost 20% shareholding in its business. Although this acquisition was subsequently halved, the regulator is purportedly still keen to discover whether the latter company’s Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lawrence Ho Yau Lung, has any ties to organized crime or if either operator has ever utilized unscrupulous individuals as part of efforts to attract foreign patrons to their venues.

Important information:

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that late-January saw Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited win an action before the Supreme Court of New South Wales after this examination had demanded to see documents the firm claimed were legally privileged. The casino giant purportedly successfully argued that it was not required to produce these sensitive papers because the investigation did not have the same sweeping powers as an Australian Royal Commission.

Role reversal:

However, the newspaper reported that Speakman disagreed and temporarily halted the inquiry late last month so that his office could launch an appeal before the New South Wales Court of Appeal. This body has now purportedly found for the Liberal Party politician in ruling that Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited should hand over the requested information to the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority.

Reportedly read the ruling from the New South Wales Court of Appeal…

“The court held that the primary judge erred in concluding that the Royal Commission Act did not confer a ‘power or authority’ on a commissioner, with that section extending the general power to compel the production of documents to include the power to compel the production of legally privileged documents.”

Crucial consideration:

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that the examination into Melbourne-based Crown Resorts Limited is being led by former New South Wales Supreme Court Judge Patricia Bergin and ultimately has the power to bar the firm from offering gambling inside the $1.5 billion Crown Sydney, which is set to begin welcoming punters from later in the year following some 50 months of construction. The reversal from the New South Wales Court of Appeal means that this inquiry could be restarted from as early as next week although Melco Resorts and Entertainment Limited has purportedly been granted the right to appeal.

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