Aus­tralia’s Crown Re­sorts casino staff ar­rested in China

The Myanmar Times - - World -

THREE Aus­tralian em­ploy­ees of bil­lion­aire James Packer’s Crown Re­sorts have been for­mally ar­rested in China, For­eign Min­is­ter Julie Bishop said yes­ter­day, as Bei­jing cracks down on high-roller gam­bling pro­mo­tions.

Eigh­teen Crown staff, in­clud­ing the three Aus­tralians, were held in raids in Oc­to­ber on sus­pi­cion they were or­gan­is­ing gam­bling ac­tiv­i­ties over­seas for Chi­nese na­tion­als.

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

“We have been for­mally ad­vised that three Aus­tralians have been ar­rested on sus­pi­cion of gam­blin­gre­lated of­fences,” Ms Bishop said.

She said con­sular of­fi­cers vis­ited the trio and they were in good health and be­ing rep­re­sented by lawyers.

“There is ... an over­all anti-cor­rup­tion agenda of [Chi­nese] Pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping and gam­bling is one of the ar­eas of in­ter­est to them,” she added.

“We are sub­ject to the laws of China. We are sub­ject to the laws of the coun­try that we are vis­it­ing or we are op­er­at­ing in.”

One of those be­ing held is Ja­son O’Con­nor, the ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of a Crown di­vi­sion called VIP In­ter­na­tional. There was no im­me­di­ate com­ment from Crown.

Mr Packer last month said he was “deeply con­cerned” for the de­tained em­ploy­ees.

Crown op­er­ates casi­nos across Aus­tralia and the world, in­clud­ing in Ma­cau, where rev­enues have been hit hard by a Chi­nese cor­rup­tion crack­down that has driven away many big spenders.

Graft has be­come en­demic in China and Mr Xi launched a much-pub­li­cised anti-cor­rup­tion drive af­ter he came to power in 2012. –

Photo: EPA

Julie Bishop says Aus­tralians must re­spect Chi­nese laws.

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