Hold the moralising: Crown is Australia

Let’s hold the moralising because all Crown has done is pursue the contemporary Australian business model. Via Domain:

Jiang opened the door to see four men and one woman wearing grim expressions. It was clear they weren’t plumbers. Flashing cards identifying themselves as agents of China’s secretive Ministry of Public Security, they hustled into her apartment.

The interrogation began immediately: What was her position at Crown? Did she have any work computers at home? Or phones? Or Crown documents?

They searched her home and placed the quietly spoken 36-year-old under arrest. Then they drove her to a police holding cell where the questioning continued.

Jiang’s world was turning upside-down. She was Crown’s administration and logistics officer. She arranged people’s travel. She was not hands on in the strategy of the James Packer-backed company to lure high rolling gamblers from the Chinese mainland to Australia.

On it goes with a sordid tale of black money laundering through Australia. You can watch 60 Minutes for more:

And this is where it turns from entirely predictable Casino business to national prosperity, also at Domain:

Tom Zhou is a short man with a round, boyish face and an intense demeanour. His familiarity with luxury travel was thanks to a special arrangement he had made with a company then majority owned by one of Australia’s richest men, James Packer.

…When Zhou’s associates wanted visas to enter Australia, Crown would vouch for them to the federal government.

In return, Crown relied on Zhou, who lives in a mansion in Melbourne’s Toorak, to circumvent Chinese laws that outlaw gambling promotion in China. These laws also ban the luring of groups of rich and powerful mainlanders to offshore casinos to punt.

…But Zhou is no ordinary Crown partner. He is, in fact, an international criminal fugitive, the subject of an Interpol red notice for financial crime that netted him tens of millions of dollars. He is supposed to be arrested immediately if he crosses a country’s border.

And from an Australian national security point of view, he is a double threat. He also heads several Chinese Communist Party-aligned organisations in Melbourne designed to project Beijing’s influence in Australia.

It makes him someone of keen interest to organisations such as the Australian Federal Police and ASIO.

But wait, there’s more, also at Domain:

Crown Resorts paid a brothel owner and alleged money launderer to lure high rollers to its Australian casinos and then provided them with money to gamble, according to court files and officials that raise further questions about the company’s business dealings.

Multiple sources with knowledge of Crown’s operations have also confirmed that Asian sex workers have been flown into Australia on private jets organised by Crown “junket” operators.

Aaaand more, Domain again:

A cousin of Chinese President Xi Jinping was aboard a private jet for high-roller gamblers when it was searched by federal agents on the Gold Coast in 2016 on suspicion that it was involved in international money laundering.

The initial target of the police search of the jet’s passengers was an alleged criminal fugitive and business partner of Crown Resorts, Tom Zhou. But the search also revealed that one of Mr Zhou’s travelling companions was Mr Xi’s cousin, Ming Chai.

Multiple sources have confirmed that police and security agencies, including ASIO, have since made detailed inquiries about why Mr Chai – a Crown resorts “VVIP” (very, very important person) – was aboard the flight with Mr Zhou, who is an alleged crime figure and Communist Party influence operative.


On and on it goes and where it stops nobody knows. But if we review the broad brushstrokes of it a pattern becomes clear:

  • dodgy Chinese laundering money through Australia;
  • generating all kinds of wildly exploitative new services industry business models reliant on slavery;
  • piggy-backing Communist Party influence Downunder;
  • which corrupted the parliament;
  • resulting in a rorted the Swiss cheese visa system;
  • rinse and repeat.

That is more or less a microcosm of the contemporary Australian economy as it operates across education, tourism, hospitality and property. It is indistinguishable from the local shops, the difference in degree not kind.

To fix it we must restructure the economy.

David Llewellyn-Smith

David Llewellyn-Smith is Chief Strategist at the MB Fund and MB Super. David is the founding publisher and editor of MacroBusiness and was the founding publisher and global economy editor of The Diplomat, the Asia Pacific’s leading geo-politics and economics portal.

He is also a former gold trader and economic commentator at The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age, the ABC and Business Spectator. He is the co-author of The Great Crash of 2008 with Ross Garnaut and was the editor of the second Garnaut Climate Change Review.

Latest posts by David Llewellyn-Smith (see all)


    • Smarter investmentsMEMBER

      Why did those suckers gamble the funds?
      They should have bought real estate, and made 100% , not lose 10% to Crown.
      No money checks on Real Estate, the proposed laws are “delayed for consultation” forever as Macrobusiness keeps reminding.
      See Zhou knew that RE was a better investment than gambline – he bought a mansion in Toorak instead.
      This news is bad news for Crown, but good news for high end property.

  1. DominicMEMBER

    The real world exposed. Nothing out of the ordinary here.

    Certainly nothing the plebs need know about.

      • DominicMEMBER

        Sorry, the sarcasm didn’t come through.

        It’s good this stuff comes out. Exposes our ‘democracy’ for what it truly is: a bunch of elites pretending to care but actually just an exercise in utilising their positions to pillage the country’s taxpayers and it resources for themselves and their cronies.

      • @bimou.. what we are seeing is the difference between great and grate.
        Reusa does great.
        Andrew does grate.
        how good is spelling?

      • Nice work Andrew (not the other Andrew who is a menber).
        You have managed to make yourself universally detested on one of the most tolerant and open-minded forums anywhere.

  2. I’d like to know the names of the parliamentarians. Wouldn’t be at all surprised if there was a Taylor in the list. That bloke’s clearly in politics solely to enrich himself and bugger the community.

    At least this stuff is coming out, as with the recent Taylor delated Monaro grass poisoning update. I wonder what will happen, if anything, other than it all being quietly swept under the rug.

    • DingwallMEMBER

      I look at nearly all our politicians and wonder what made them enter politics. All I can come up with is increasing their wealth, as you suggest, and/or pumping their over-inflated egos. The worst ones are solidly defined as narcissistic. Are any actually there to improve Australia for future?

      • DominicMEMBER

        Allow me to assist:

        “The ideal politician, on the other hand, is pliable, convincing, and a liar by instinct. He is not attached to any platform and has no ideological objective. The single thing to which he is truly committed is power. He wants its prestige and advantages, and seeks above all to be personally enriched by it …”

        Christophe Buffin de Chosal, The End of Democracy

    • I wonder how high the corruption goes. Any bets the government tries to sweep the corruption under the carpet?

      • It’s a well known fact that the govt possess the biggest broom and the biggest carpet

    • rob barrattMEMBER

      You are all correct of course. The only issue I have is that anyone should expect anything from a politician or for that matter democracy. The whole principle of a democracy is that, accepting power corrupts, you put them in for a fixed length of time and then throw them out. Democracy is the only system of government that accepts humans are @@seholes as a matter of course. Every new lot coming into power initially does something vaguely useful and then the rot sets in. Situation normal. Change ’em frequently for the same reason you change your dags. Be thankful you have escaped dictatorship.

      • rob barrattMEMBER

        Mind you, I do love the way the words “Democracy” and “People” are used in dictatorships. In a “People’s Republic” they shoot you if you say anything out of line. In a “People’s Democratic Republic” or “Democratic People’s Republic” they shoot you whether you’ve said anything or not.

  3. ScommosHairPiece

    1. “Junket” operators (i.e. Triad) facilitate a visa for high roller gambling tourism.
    2. To circumvent capital movement controls, the Junket (Triad) vouches for the visitor’s IOU on arrival in Australia.
    3. If the visitor suffers big gambling loses, the visitor pays the outstanding IOU to the Junket (Triad) on their return to the PRC.
    4. The Junket (Triad) settles the IOU debt at the Australian casino with dirty money from drug/prostitution ops.


  4. Was talking to a couple of Chinese tourists on the weekend and quizzed them about their views on China, Australia etc. Was interesting to find out that Xi Jinping’s brother and other family members reside in Australia. Also said a lot of high ranking military officials reside here too.

    • Was also interesting to hear that the current events in HK is being censored out of the media in China and very few mainland Chinese are even aware of what’s happening there

  5. “To fix it we must restructure the economy“


    To fix it we must imprison a bunch of crooked politicians and members of the elite who protect their vested interests through corrupting public power

    • Sure, but once you’d done away with the best perks of the job, who would take it? 😉

    • Wrong. That’s not how the southern province works anymore.

      To fix it, the government must simply declare it fixed, and the media must consistently carpet-bomb us with this declaration. Jail any whistleblowers/subversives that may claim it’s not fixed.

      Pretty sure this will be easy to roll out. Same prick that owns the casino owns the media, right? Government interest are aligned too.

      • “A big part of the way I intend to direct over the next three years,” the Prime Minister said, “is there will be very clear targets about performance levels we expect from the delivery of the public service: that Australians should expect to see things turned around quickly; that investors that are looking to invest in Australia, the blockages that often frustrate them, they will be dealt with.

  6. Good article HnH. The corruption is endemic and we are paying for it in part via Chinese drug trafficking here.

    My take on James Packer is that his model for Sydney’s second casino which the NSW Lib govt approved in 2013 after some arm twisting, was always going to be based on corruption even though he may claim he has no knowledge of what is going on because he is not a director. It is clear that while he has not been a director he gets all the info of Crown’s finances, almost certainly on a Casino by Casino basis. Packer and Lawrence Ho were simply modeling their Casino business on the model used by Ho’s father and many other shady casino operations. There is no clean Ho (son) versus dirty Ho (father) – the distinction is just a marketing ploy to get approvals for their casino businesses.

    My take on James purported mental deterioration is simply due to his concerns that the model on which his money making enterprise is based could be rendered unprofitable by government action (it seems the Chinese govt prefers other Chinese to benefit from such activities which is why they are allowing Lawrence Ho to move $1.7 billion out of China as part payment for a major slice of Crown – no doubt they will allow the full take over at some point in time).

    James Packer is a total asshool who has no concern about the welfare of fellow Australians and is willing to sell us out so long as he can make some money. I really do hope he goes fully kooky and dies a miserable death.

    • Perhaps James’ mental health issues were just to put some distance between him and his patsy executives because he knew this was coming?

  7. The LNP Government will do nothing about this.
    It is apparently quite OK to do odd favours to help your mates dodgy au pair, help launder money, accept donations from CCP stooges, give $448 million to your mates running a bogus Reef Foundation, sell your bogus water rights to the government and clean up in a tax haven, etc.
    Do you remember the old days of the Ute-Gate scandal ensnaring Kevin Rudd?
    Oh those were the days when a broken down, $1500 Holden Rodeo could nearly cost you your political career.
    Albo is a wimp and will say nothing. Despairingly for us, the LNP would not be phased by this at all.

  8. I’m a bit surprised that there aren’t sufficient bonds of mateship between Nine and Crown to prevent this story from breaking.
    But then, I’m sure Nine has done well out of it, it’s one of the few interesting stories I’ve seen under their masthead, and the first time I’ve watched 60 Minutes in years…

    • juliaeliseforrestMEMBER

      Isn’t the leader of the free world an ex-casino owner/operator? It all starts at the top!