The decision on Monday in the NSW Supreme Court by Justice Hoeben to allow documents from the long-running saga of Alexander Preston v Star City Pty Ltd to be handed to the Office of the Legal Services Commissioner (OLSC) and The Casino Control Authority (CCA), suggests that a massive time bomb may be ticking away with the potential to destroy Tabcorp’s chances of winning the new exclusive casino licence they are negotiating with the NSW Government. Tabcorp owns Star City and its precious 12-year exclusive casino licence ends in September.
The CCA is charged with regulating the NSW Casino Industry (current members: 1), and the OLSC receives complaints about the conduct of solicitors and barristers in NSW. If the casino operator was involved in serious misconduct or illegal activity, the CCA would be the logical body to be informed. If a member of the legal fraternity was involved in serious misconduct or illegal activity, the OLSC would be the logical body to be informed.
Preston’s case, now in its tenth year in the courts, is complex but essentially alleges that the full gamut of underworld activities were both condoned and undertaken by the exclusive NSW Casino operator Star City. These activities include pr-stitution, drug dealing, gaming by staff, corruption, inducements, money laundering and much, much more.
Representatives for Preston (a former Sydney-based publisher and high roller) approached the Court today, seeking to release certain documents to the OLSC, the CCA and Journalists on the basis of non compliance by Star City in the discovery process. Whilst the Court allowed release to the OLSC and CCA, it refused release to the media.
Could the interest of the OLSC and CCA allude to the possibility that Preston has evidence that documents sought under discovery were deliberately destroyed by Star City, when they were fully aware that Preston had commenced legal action against them?
This kind of situation was last visited during the infamous McCabe vs British American Tobacco case which involved BAT destroying documents in anticipation of litigation, under their euphemistically entitled “Document Retention Policy”.
Being in the lowly media we weren’t granted access to any documents so we can only hope that the NSW Government, via the OLSC and CCA and now put on notice by Crikey, will be aware that something may well be brewing. There should be no rash decision to grant Tabcorp a new licence, just in case any undue findings were to arise against Tabcorp in the Preston case.
But if they must do a new deal “for the sake of the NSW economy”, they could always do the right thing by the punters by retaining the option to revoke any deal if it emerges that Tabcorp has engaged in serious and/or illegal misconduct.