Crown shares plunge af­ter China de­tains 18 em­ploy­ees

The Sun (Malaysia) - - SUNBIZ -

SYDNEY: Shares in bil­lion­aire James Packer’s Crown Re­sorts plunged yes­ter­day af­ter 18 sales and mar­ket­ing staff were de­tained in China, in­clud­ing an ex­ec­u­tive in charge of lur­ing high-rollers to Aus­tralia.

The gam­ing com­pany’s stock fell 13.9% to close in Sydney at A$11.15 (RM35.72).

It fol­lowed news that three Aus­tralians were among those hauled in for ques­tion­ing by Chi­nese author­i­ties on Thursday and Friday last week, with the com­pany un­able to con­tact them.

“In re­la­tion to me­dia re­ports on the week­end, Crown Re­sorts Lim­ited be­lieves that Crown’s ex­ec­u­tive vice-pres­i­dent VIP In­ter­na­tional, Ja­son O’Con­nor, is one of 18 Crown em­ploy­ees that have been de­tained by Chi­nese author­i­ties,” the com­pany said in a state­ment yes­ter­day.

“To date, Crown has not been able to speak with its em­ploy­ees and is work­ing closely with the Depart­ment of Foreign Af­fairs and Trade to ur­gently make con­tact with and as­cer­tain the wel­fare of its em­ploy­ees.

“Crown is yet to be pro­vided with de­tails of why its em­ploy­ees have been de­tained.”

China’s foreign ministry said in a state­ment to AFP that Aus­tralian na­tion­als had been “crim­i­nally de­tained by Chi­nese author­i­ties for sus­pected gam­bling of­fences”.

“The case is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” it added.

The Aus­tralian Broad­cast­ing Cor­po­ra­tion said it un­der­stood they were seized over so­lic­it­ing Chi­nese high-rollers to gam­ble in over­seas casi­nos.

The Aus­tralian Fi­nan­cial Re­view re­ported they may have been tar­geted as part of “Op­er­a­tion Chain Break”, aimed at stop­ping the il­licit flow of funds into foreign casi­nos.

Gam­ing com­pa­nies are not al­lowed to ex­plic­itly ad­ver­tise gam­bling in China.

The news­pa­per said po­lice raided houses in Shanghai, Bei­jing, Guangzhou and Chengdu. – AFP

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