After an inquiry found Star Entertainment to be unfit to hold its New South Wales casino license earlier this month, the company’s acting chief executive, Geoff Hogg, quit the business Monday, leaving all his roles, which also included Queensland casino chief.
Chairman Ben Heap will step into an “executive chairman” role to cover CEO duties until current boss at Tyro Payments Robbie Cook joins the company as Hogg’s replacement.
Hogg’s departure comes a day before Star is due to respond to a show cause notice from the NSW casino regulator on why it should not lose its license; or face fines up to AUD 100 million after the Adam Bell, SC, inquiry found failures of corporate governance and culture.
Appointed CEO Robbie Cooke.
NSW casino regulator chief Philip Crawford said after the release of the report on September 13 that Star needed to “show leadership” and “get rid of people” to demonstrate it was capable of change, reports Australia Financial Review.
The report on the NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority review was accompanied by harsh remarks on Star by Crawford, who was concerned that, despite the weight of damning evidence exposed during the inquiry, nothing had changed at the casino group, and highlighted Hogg’s evidence to a separate Queensland inquiry among the reason for his expressed opinion.
The inquiry led to the loss of five executive jobs including CEO Matt Bekier, CFO Harry Theodore, Chief Legal and Risk officer Paula Martin, NSW chief casino officer Greg Hawkins, and chairman John O’Neill, as well as senior managers from its legal and finance teams.
NICC's Chief, Philip Crawford.
Although Hogg was not in the group CEO role at the time of wrongdoing covered by the NSW report, governance experts said after its release that he would probably need to leave the company to show regulators Star was serious about the reform, Australian Financial Review reported.
Additionally, the ongoing Queensland inquiry into Star heard that on Hogg’s watch Star allowed a high roller linked to the ‘Ndrangheta Calabrian mafia to become a top 10 table games player at its Gold Coast casino.
The Queensland review is looking into activities at Star’s casino on the Gold Coast and in Brisbane, and will determine if the company is suitable following the investigation’s final report, which is due on Friday.
The Star's Gold Coast casino.
The interim CEO’s departure date has not yet been decided, and Star told the ASX on Monday that he would “work with the board to transition his executive responsibilities in an orderly manner," AFR said.
Cooke’s replacement at Tyro officially starts next week, but the outgoing boss has committed to staying on as an adviser until December, a move that has not changed despite Hogg’s departure.
Cooke is currently undergoing probity tests in NSW and Queensland to determine if he is a suitable close associate of the three casinos. The state-based casino regulators have not indicated when they expect he will clear the regulatory hurdles.