US President Donald Trump was denied the chance to operate in Sydney, Australia’s first casino in the eighties because a report by the New South Wales Police Board concluded he had “Mafia connections,” according to newly released documents obtained by The Australian newspaper on Tuesday.
In 1987, Trump and the Queensland-based Kern Corporation were one of four bidders for the tender of a casino earmarked for Sydney’s Darling Harbour.
Kern would build the proposed development, while Trump, who already owned the Trump Plaza and Trump Castle in Atlantic City and was about to open the Trump Taj Mahal, would operate the casino.
“If our design is chosen, it will not only be the largest, but one of the most magnificent, one of the most beautiful hotels anywhere in the world,” he declared to The Australian in February that year.
But minutes taken three months later at a meeting of the New South Wales government to discuss the tender mention the police report’s conclusion that it would be “dangerous” to go ahead with the Trump/Kern proposal.
“Atlantic City would be a dubious model for Sydney and, in our judgment, the Trump mafia connections should exclude the Kern/Trump consortium,” the report suggested.
The report itself, and the evidence on which it based its claims about Trump, has not been made public.
But it also found fault in the Trump/Kern bid’s numbers, concluding that “projected casino revenue estimates” were “not soundly based” and that the tender was “not financially viable.”
The Australian tracked down a retired businessman who was involved in the Trump/Kern bid. He wished to remain nameless but said he had been unaware of the suspicions of the Police Board.
“All of us had to undergo police investigation. We were told that everyone had to be cleared from a police perspective,’’ he said.
“The plan was for the Kern Corporation to build the casino, and for Trump to run it because he had the licence and experience in Atlantic City. I was not aware of the police report; it is the first I’ve heard of any Mafia connections.’’
The Police Board also had issues with two of the other tenderers, with Malaysian-based Genting the only company to pass the probity checks. However, the New South Wales government subsequently shelved the entire project.
Sydney eventually got its first casino when the Star City Casino opened its doors a decade later.
The White House referred The Australian’s requests for comment to the Trump organization, which declined to respond.