Business Comment: Capital Corp needs to provide some answers

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The Independent Online
Casinos have always inhabited a rather murky world. For all the dinner suits, fine wines, posh clientele and gilded decor, scandal and untoward behaviour is never far from their doors, which is why they are so heavily regulated.

But for all that, the goings-on at Capital Corporation, owner of Crockfords and the Colony Club, take some beating. Bit by bit some extraordinary little vignettes are being drip-fed into the newspapers about this company. It ought to be remembered here that Capital is actually quite a small enterprise, and the events complained of are hardly in the Guinness league. Even so, it cannot be too long before shareholders, and more importantly the regulatory authorities, start demanding answers.

For starters there are accusations of phone-tapping and other surveillance operations, inadequate gaming controls and questionable controls in the food and beverage department. There seems to have been open warfare amongst the board. Accusations are flying between past and present directors like confetti.

Now the company has fallen out with a group of disgruntled former employees who feel wronged by the board. On top of this there have been two unpublished external reports into the gaming and wine-buying side of the business.

Capital admits that it may not have been run the way a public company ought to be. But corrective action has now been taken, the company insists, and these matters are now a thing of the past - a claim that might carry a little more credibility were it not for the fact that Garry Nesbitt, the former chairman, is still on the board.

Who's feeding out this stuff and for what purpose? Has the company really cleaned up its act or is more corrective action still needed? All these questions demand answers. It might actually benefit the company if regulators were to step in and provide some. The longer this drags on without some form of external investigation, the more Capital faces death by a thousand cuts.