SkyCity reportedly mulling Darwin casino sale, definitely prosecuting embezzler

skycity-embezzler-chargedNew Zealand and Australian casino operator SkyCity Entertainment Group is reportedly mulling the sale of some of its assets, including its underperforming casino in Darwin.

On Tuesday, the Australian Financial Review quoted sources saying SkyCity had approached strategic investors last month to gauge the level of interest in its Darwin casino, one of its hotels in Auckland and some carpark businesses.

The AFR suggested that, with SkyCity’s debt to earnings ratio set to hit 3x in the 2018 fiscal year and a pipeline stuffed with projects in various stages of development, the compamy had little room for error and thus would be eager to shift some of its lesser properties in exchange for some quick cash. The AFR also suggested that a sale of the entire SkyCity group might be under consideration.

Meanwhile, a former SkyCity Hamilton general manager appeared in court on Wednesday to plead not guilty to stealing $2.5m from her employer. Tessa Fiona Grant stands accused of 49 fraud-related charges stemming from Grant having allegedly cooked SkyCity’s books in order to fund her opulent lifestyle.

Grant worked at the casino from 2006 to 2014, during which she rose from finance manager to GM of the Hamilton property. The alleged chicanery, which involved writing nearly 60 checks to individuals and businesses to fund Grant’s lavish personal life, reportedly began in 2008.

Some of the checks went to Grant’s family members, including a $108k payment to her former husband. Five- and six-figure checks also went to carpet stores, landscape design firms and a horse coach business, although there’s no suggestion that any of the businesses understood Grant’s money was funny. Grant was remanded on bail ahead of her next date in Hamilton District Court on June 2.

In yet more legal news, a current senior manager at SkyCity Adelaide is currently defending himself against a former colleague’s claims that he forced her to have sex with him in order to keep her job.

On Wednesday, SkyCity team leader John Awad appeared in District Court to defend himself against charges of indecent assault and procuring sexual intercourse by threats or intimidation. His alleged victim, who cannot be named, testified in a closed court session that Awad told her she could be fired unless she “looked after him sexually.” Awad has denied the allegations. The trial continues.