Crown director John Poynton has resigned due to his past relationship with James Packer, following a 3-week fight to stay

(Joe Armao, SMH)
  • John Poynton has stood down as a director of Crown after a three-week fight to stay.
  • In a statement, Crown attributed the resignation to “a perceived lack of independence arising out of his past relationship with Mr James Packer.”
  • He marks the sixth director to leave in the last three weeks after the final report of the New South Wales Bergin inquiry was published.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

With a target painted on his back, John Poynton was never going to be able to evade the gaming regulator forever.

On Monday, Crown announced the inevitable as it bid Poynton adieu, its sixth director in less than a month to be shown the door.

“The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has advised Crown that it considers it appropriate that John step down as a director of all companies within the Crown group, due to a perceived lack of independence arising out of his past relationship with Mr James Packer and CPH, notwithstanding the recent termination of John’s consultancy arrangement with CPH,” Crown said.

“As a result, John has agreed to resign in the best interests of Crown and our shareholders, despite no adverse findings by the Commissioner in the ILGA Inquiry in relation to his suitability, integrity or performance.”

Poynton had attempted to save himself and address the apparent conflict of interest by severing his consultancy role with CPH but it was never going to be enough.

Speaking to the ABC’s 7:30 program a little more than a week ago, ILGA chair Philip Crawford had insisted that Poynton, along with director Harold Mitchell, “both need to go”.

John Poynton has departed Crown. (Erin Jonasson, AFR)

“Our authority has a very strong view about what needs to change and to start with its personnel — people we can deal with and we have some confidence in,” he said.

With Harold gone 72 hours later, the writing was well and truly on the wall.

While a director departure at Crown in recent times has become an almost daily occurrence, Poynton’s departure is particularly significant given his ties to billionaire James Packer.

Packer who stepped down from the Crown board himself in 2018, and has been trying to sell his 37% stake in the company for some time, had retained significant influence over the company despite holding no formal role within it.

The New South Wales inquiry found that through their allegiance to Packer, some directors may not have been putting the company’s interests first.

“The lines of reporting were blurred; risks were not properly identified; identified risks were not properly notified; conflicts or potential conflicts were not recognised; and the corporate needs of Crown were not given precedence over the corporate needs or desires of CPH,” Commissioner Patricia Bergin, a former Supreme Court judge, wrote in her scathing final report.

Given six directors are now gone, including Crown’s CEO Ken Barton, along with company secretary and counsel Mary Manos, Crown can at least breathe a sigh of relief that there’s no one left to off.

Instead, there is now plenty of space for some new appointments to the boardroom table, all of whom will have their work cut out for them.

In the coming months, they will need to clean up Crown’s image, claw back its Sydney casino licence, and minimise the fallout from a West Australian inquiry and a Victorian royal commission.

Then again, if they’re promised anything like the golden parachute handed to Barton estimated to be worth up to $77 million, Crown shouldn’t have too much trouble attracting some cleanskins.