Crown boss confirms exit, but won’t leave empty-handed
Crown Resorts is going through a massive shakeup after the New South Wales Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) deemed the casino operator unsuitable to hold a license. Several top dogs on the company’s board stepped down and there was talk that CEO Ken Barton was going to give up his position, as well. That exit has now been confirmed, but Crown will reportedly give Barton some lovely parting gifts for his participation. According to The Guardian, Barton, who had only led the company for about a year, is expected to receive a nice compensation package as he packs up his things. He will reportedly receive AUD$3 million ($2.33 million) in severance pay, which will be more than enough to keep him going for a while. The money comes as part of his employment contract, which stipulates that he be paid a year’s salary if he leaves the company without notice. Only “serious breach or misconduct” could have prevented Crown from paying the severance. Barton’s exit, and the cashout, comes as he was singled out by the ILGA and its Bergin inquiry for his “serious lack of judgment,” a refusal to respond to notices of potential money-laundering activity at Crown and his close relationship to former Crown boss James Packer. Packer has been accused, among other things, of still secretly running the company after his ouster, which could have allegedly only been made possible through information provided to him from Barton. With Barton heading for the exit, Crown’s board chair, Helen Coonan, will have to take on additional responsibilities for now. She will wear the CEO hat while the company searches for a new boss, something she publicly states is not a role she accepts enthusiastically. She said in a Crown notice to the Australian Securities Exchange, “Assuming the role of executive chairman is a decision I have not taken lightly but the board feels it provides leadership stability and certainty at this important time for the business.”In addition to Barton, Andrew Demetrious, Guy Jalland and Michael Johnston have extricated themselves from the Crown umbrella. With that, the Victorian Commission for Gambling and Liquor Regulation, which is also investigating Crown’s ability to hold a casino license, will drop its investigation of Barton and Demetrious. However, its scrutiny of the company and its operations will continue, as will its investigation into the actions of another Crown director, Harold Mitchell.
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