Australian Crown staff jailed in China for promoting gambling, set for release within months

Australian Crown staff jailed in China for promoting gambling, set for release within months

Australian Crown staff jailed in China for promoting gambling, set for release within months

Updated 26 June 2017, 19:25 AEST

Three Australian employees of James Packer's Crown Resorts are handed jail sentences after pleading guilty to illegally promoting gambling, but will be released over the next two months due to time already served.

Three Australian employees of James Packer's Crown Resorts will be released from a Chinese jail over the next two months after pleading guilty to illegally promoting gambling.

Key points:

  • Seventeen staff and two former Crown employees fronted court
  • Australians' nine and 10-month sentences include time already served
  • Defence lawyer says detainees are all doing well

The staff have been sentenced to between nine and 10 months' jail after pleading guilty in a Shanghai court today.

Seventeen staff and two former Crown employees faced the court.

Of the three Australians detained, Melbourne-based executive Jason O'Connor was sentenced to 10 months in prison, while China-based staff Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan were sentenced to nine months' jail.

All three have already served eight months in a Shanghai jail, and their sentence includes time already served.

With time served, Xuan and Dan should have one month remaining, while O'Conner should have two months.

In a statement to the ASX, Crown Resorts said O'Connor, Dan and Xuan were also fined the equivalent of $390,000, $78,000 and $39,000 respectively.

In all, 16 of the 19 defendants were fined a total of $1.67 million, which Crown will pay ex gratia, the company said.

Of those who were fined, Crown said 11 were also sentenced to nine months' jail and five to a period of 10 months, with time in detention since October 14 to be taken into account for them all.

The remaining three defendants, who were granted bailed on November 11, were not fined or sentenced to jail.

A small team of Australian private security guards helped escort some of the relatives as they went into the court complex.

Other relatives arrived independently, including one supporter who arrived in a Rolls Royce.

Australian consul general in Shanghai Graeme Meehan, who was in the court, said the Australian Government had "monitored this case very closely".

"We've left our Chinese counterparts in no doubt as to our close interest in the case," he said.

Ahead of the sentence, no family members were willing to talk to the media, although some relatives arrived with flowers in expectation of an imminent release.

When asked how the detainees were coping, one of the defence lawyers said: "They are all very good."