China tries Crown Resorts employees on gambling charges

Posted June 26, 2017

The three Australians employed by Crown Resorts facing court over charges relating to gambling pleaded guilty at the Baoshan District People's Court in Shanghai on Monday.

Jason O'Connor, the head of Crown Resorts worldwide VIP programs was sentenced to 10 months in prison, and Australian-Chinese dual nationals Jerry Xuan and Jenny Pan received sentences of nine months' imprisonment, Meehan said.

Sign up here for free access to 7 articles per month + twice daily business email alerts.

Two other Australian Crown employees received sentences of nine months in prison for similar crimes.

A Crown Resorts media spokeswoman said the company would not be making any comment on Monday, but may release a statement later in the week.

Crown's vice-president in China, Malaysian Alfread Gomez, was also on trial. Zhai Jian, a defence lawyer, said the defendants had pled guilty.

The defendants are facing a maximum sentence of three years in jail.

At the end of the swift trial that only began on Monday morning, relatives and lawyers were whisked away.

Journalists had been barred from attending the actual proceedings.

Of the 16 defendants who were charged, 11 were also sentenced to nine-month jail terms, with the remaining five to a period of 10 months.

The case was part of a wider crackdown on gambling in China.

Since the detentions, Crown has scaled back its Chinese ambitions, selling down its stake in the Macau-based joint venture Melco Crown, before offloading its final stake in Melco Resorts & Entertainment for $987 million.

Crown does not directly run casinos in China.

China has been cracking down on attempts by casinos to woo high-spending Chinese gamblers within China. They were arrested in October during raids in four cities in China.

The trial is the latest in a series of high-profile cases in China involving foreign firms. British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline PLC was fined almost $500 million in 2014 and food maker OSI saw employees jailed previous year.