Anne Ward added to Crown’s board

by Mia Chapman Last Updated
Report into Crown Melbourne to be kept confidential for now

A new independent non-executive director has been appointed to the board of Crown Resorts, in an effort to boost the embattled casino operator’s corporate governance credentials.

The Australian Financial Review reports that Anne Ward, a former partner at law firm MinterEllison, is the chairman of ASX-listed e-commerce group Redbubble and communication software provider MNF Group.

She is also a council member at RMIT University.

She joins Crown to improve its corporate governance in light of three damaging royal commissions in three states.

Crown’s interim chairman, Jane Halton, said Ms Ward would bring her “rich experience” to the board.

That experience includes serving as general counsel for Australia and Asia at National Australia Bank.

“Her appointment further strengthens the mix of capability and experience as we continue to refresh the board,” Ms Halton said.

Ward excited to join Crown’s reform projects

Crown is facing the fight of its life, with two royal commissions set to determine if it is fit to hold its Melbourne and Perth casino licences after the NSW inquiry last year said the company was unsuitable to run its Sydney casino.

The Victorian royal commission counsel assisting Adrian Finanzio, SC, believes the casino giant is unsalvageable after further investigations revealed “grave, systemic breaches of the law, and equally importantly, sustained breaches of the trust and confidence”.

But Melbourne-based Ms Ward said she was up to the task of implementing the vast reform program the casino operator must undertake.

“Crown has been an integral part of my home town Melbourne for many years and I am excited about the opportunity to make a contribution to the board as Crown shapes its future,” she said.

“I look forward to joining the board as an agent for positive change and I am committed to supporting management in implementing the reform program and driving value for shareholders.”

Ms Ward will take on the job once she has received state-based regulatory approval to join the board.

Her appointment comes at a time where there has been significant personnel change at the top of Crown.

Switkowski takes Crown lead

Crown appointed Dr Ziggy Switkowski as its new chairman in late August to replace former Howard government minister Helen Coonan, as the group undergoes a governance and management overhaul following a string of high-profile scandals that put its future in jeopardy.

Dr Switkowki comes to Crown after prominent roles leading Optus and Telstra and most recently as Chancellor of RMIT University. 

Victoria’s royal commission into Crown will deliver its findings by October 15 on whether it is fit to hold the licence for its flagship Melbourne casino.

The inquiry exposed a string of legal and ethical breaches including its cavalier approach to gambling harm.

The licence for Crown’s new Sydney casino is currently suspended after a public inquiry in NSW in February confirmed reports that Crown had facilitated money laundering and had been infiltrated by organised crime syndicates.

A separate royal commission into its Perth casinos is underway in WA.

Dr Switkowski, who was reappointed for another five-year term at RMIT in January 2020, said it had been a “pleasure and honour” to serve in the role and he would leave with “a great sense of pride at what was achieved in that time”.

Dr Switkowski will leave RMIT at the end of October and faced calls from the Australian tertiary education union to resign, shortly after his appointment at Crown.

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