James Packer involved in Crown security fracas

Gaming magnate James Packer verbally abused a security guard at his own casino, Crown Melbourne, on New Year's Day after the employee failed to recognise the identity of the billionaire.

Mr Packer, who controls 53 per cent of Crown Resorts, was initially barred entry to the main gaming floor of the casino by the staff member.

Mariah Carey and James Packer pose with David Panton and Julie Bishop on New Year's Eve.
Mariah Carey and James Packer pose with David Panton and Julie Bishop on New Year's Eve. Photo: Supplied

The 60-year-old security guard, Dr Iskandar Chaban, was verbally abused by Mr Packer who was accompanied by Ishan Ratnam, vice president of VIP gaming services at Crown, during the incident.

Mr Packer had celebrated New Year's Eve with a performance by his girlfriend Mariah Carey at the casino the previous night.

"Crown confirms a minor incident took place on New Year's Day at the Crown Melbourne Resort, following a misunderstanding by a security officer," a Crown spokesman said on Sunday.

"A contract security officer, working inside the resort was radioed that one of Crown's most important VIPs was approaching his position but failed to recognise Mr Packer, moving in front of him to attempt to physically block him from entering the casino and causing a collision. It's understood that a verbal altercation ensued and Mr Packer continued into the facility."

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The altercation comes nearly two years after Mr Packer was involved in a street brawl with former Nine boss David Gyngell in the streets of Sydney's Bondi Beach. The two well-known business identities were each fined $500 and issued with criminal infringement notices for offensive behaviour.

Mr Ratnam, charged with looking after the casino's high-roller clients, was last year caught up in a lawsuit relating to Fiat Chrysler Australia.

The Crown executive, also known as Ishan Kunaratnam, has previously been described as a special assistant to Mr Packer and holds responsibility for the casino's exclusive Capital Golf Club and nightspot Club 23.

Dr Chaban hired legal firm Maurice Blackburn on Friday to pursue a potential workers' compensation claim as a result of the stress he endured from the blow-up.

"Maurice Blackburn Lawyers have been engaged to advise in relation to a potential standard workers' compensation claim," a spokesperson said on Sunday. "It is premature to make any further comment while investigations are continuing."

Unhappy with Crown response

It is understood a member of Dr Chaban's family made contact with the media saying they were unhappy with the response to the incident from Crown.

Crown said the security guard had not been fired and is expected to return to work at the casino although the timeframe remains unclear.

"Subsequently, Crown security followed normal procedures and protocols suspending the officer, pending a review," the spokesman said. "Mr Chaban has been reinstated and will receive training and coaching in relation to the incident."

MSS Security who employs Dr Chaban and holds a contract to provide security work for Crown Melbourne was unavailable for comment while United Voice said it was unaware if Dr Chaban is a current member of the union.

Dr Chaban, who lives in the Melbourne suburb of Reservoir, was born in Syria and is thought to have worked at Crown for just over three years. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Melbourne.

Mr Packer recently stepped down from Crown's board to allow him more freedom to be involved in the daily operations and development of the company's casino pipeline.

He is expected to draw an annual salary, which has been reported to be worth about $10 million, in a new executive role, although the details are still being finalised.

Mr Packer divides his time between Los Angeles where his children live and Israel where he has residency and harbours ambitions for new investments in the country's tech sector.