Crown loses another director as Toni Korsanos steps down

by Noah Taylor Last Updated
Crown loses another director as Toni Korsanos steps down

Crown Resorts has lost its tenth director in the past year, with Toni Korsanos to depart the casino giant in October.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that her surprise exit comes as the crisis-stricken group tries to rebuild its board and governance.

Ms Korsanos joined the Crown board in mid-2018 and along with former senior bureaucrat Jane Halton, is one of only two directors to survive a subsequent wave of scandals and public inquiries into the casino group.

Crown said in a statement that Ms Korsanos will retire after its annual general meeting on October 21.

The company’s board currently has only four members, with former Telstra and Optus boss Ziggy Switkowski awaiting probity clearance to join as chairman.

He will replace Helen Coonan, who resigned last month following Victoria’s damning royal commission into Crown’s Melbourne casino.

Mr Korsanos said she was stepping down to focus on her “extensive” other commitments, which include a directorship at Treasury Wine Estates and executive vice chair at US gaming company Scientific Games.

She said she was proud of the work Crown had done to date in reforming itself.

“I am confident under the leadership of Dr Ziggy Switkowski and new chief executive Mr Steven McCann, and the refreshed senior management team, Crown is well positioned to become one of the most responsible operators of integrated resorts,” Ms Korsanos said.

Ms Halton, who is Crown’s interim chairman, said Ms Korsanos had provided “stability and outstanding leadership and support” to the company.

The licence for Crown’s new Sydney casino remains suspended after an independent inquiry in NSW rules in February it was not a suitable licence holder in light of evidence it had facilitated money laundering and been infiltrated by organised crime.

Meanwhile, Victoria’s royal commissioner Ray Finkelstein, QC, will report the findings from his inquiry into its flagship Melbourne casino to the state government by October 15.

The commission uncovered numerous legal and ethical breaches by Crown, including the underpayment of gambling tax and a lax approach to gambling harm.

A separate royal commission in WA is examining its Perth casino and is expected to run until March 2022.

Coonan departs, replacement announced

Helen Coonan, who served as executive chairman for part of the year after Mr Barton’s departure and resigned in late August after coming in for heavy criticism at Victoria’s royal commission into Crown, took home $1.3 million.

Ziggy Switkowski will take over from Coonan, pending regulatory approvals.

Switkowski was most recently a chair of NBN Co and chancellor of Melbourne’s RMIT University.

He was formerly the boss of telcos Telstra and Optus. 

The high-profile businessman recently announced he would leave RMIT at the end of October, just days after the union for Australian tertiary education staff called for him to resign over his appointment as chair of Crown two weeks ago.

But Dr Switkowski said that a perceived clash of values was not raised in discussions with RMIT’s governing council.

He said he only resigned because the role at Crown required a significant time commitment as the $6.6 billion group tries to retain its casino licences for Melbourne, Perth and Sydney.

“There was never a time when my joining the Crown board was debated…other than the fact that I would have to step down in order to have the time to attend to Crown’s issues,” he said.

Dr Switkowski, who also chairs the government owned NBN Co, said he had agreed at a council meeting on September 1 that he would step down after 11 years in the role.

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