Posted on: December 18, 2020, 08:22h.
Last updated on: December 18, 2020, 08:22h.
Billionaire James Packer faces a civil lawsuit from a former Crown Melbourne security guard he allegedly assaulted almost five years ago.
Dr Iskandar Chaban, 64, claims he was attacked by the casino tycoon, 53, on New Year’s Day, 2016 and is seeking damages.
The night before, Packer’s then fiancée Mariah Carey had performed a live show at Crown Melbourne as part of the New Year celebrations.
The plaintiff says he attempted to prevent Packer and a senior Crown executive, Ishan Ratnam, from entering the casino because he failed to recognize them and they “appeared to be intoxicated.”
That’s when Packer, who is 6’4” and overweight, allegedly became verbally abusive and rushed at the older man, pushing him in the chest.
“The second defendant then verbally threatened the plaintiff, saying words to the effect [of] ‘I will throw you out of your job,” the lawsuit states.
Diagnosed With PTSD
According to the lawsuit, Chaban, who has a PhD from Melbourne University, was then taken to the back office where he was “abused, humiliated, intimidated, and bullied” by four of the casino’s managers.
His “uniform was demanded from him before he was escorted from the Crown Casino premises and driven to Southern Cross train station,” according to court filings.
Chaban subsequently fell ill on the train, “suffering neck and back injuries requiring transfer to the Northern hospital for treatment.” He has since been diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety as a result of the alleged incident.
This is not the only allegation of threatening behavior by Packer at around this time. Packer had recently resigned from the Crown board to avoid any conflict of interest for his plans for the company. He was preparing the ground to take the casino giant private through a takeover by his personal investment company, Consolidated Press Holdings.
That deal never materialized, and a recent public inquiry into Crown’s suitability for licensing in New South Wales offered an insight as to why.
Under cross-questioning, Packer admitted sending threatening emails to Ben Gray, the head of Asia and Australia for TPG Capital at the time. Packer was seeking TPG’s financial assistance for his bid to acquire Crown in its entirety. But when Gray refused to play ball, Packer turned nasty, threatening to set his friend Yossi Cohen, the head of Mossad, on him.
Packer had been recently hobnobbing with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his national intelligence agency chief, and it was a threat Gray took seriously enough to hire former special forces soldiers to protect him.
A penitent Packer told the inquiry his behavior had been “shameful” and “disgraceful” and blamed the altercation on a bipolar condition for which he now receives treatment.
Packer abandoned the privatization bid and later rejoined the board, only to resign again in 2018, citing mental health problems.