Crown Resorts: China releases 10 employees, including two Australians, from jail

Crown Resorts: China releases 10 employees, including two Australians, from jail

Crown Resorts: China releases 10 employees, including two Australians, from jail

Updated 12 July 2017, 20:40 AEST

China releases 10 Crown Resorts employees, including two Australian citizens, from prison after they were convicted of illegally promoting gambling.

China has released 10 Crown Resorts employees, including two Australian citizens, from prison after they were convicted of illegally promoting gambling.

Key points:

  • Two of the three jailed Australians were released from prison on Wednesday
  • Melbourne-based executive Jason O'Connor will be released next month
  • Crown sold remaining stake in Macau-focused Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd in May

Australian national Jerry Xuan walked out of a Shanghai detention centre accompanied by family members and security officials.

He was followed by three other Crown Casino employees, part of a group that had been detained since October last year.

They left immediately in cars without speaking to media.

Another six were released from a second facility in the city, a lawyer for the families said.

Australian citizen Jane Pan Dan was also among the group to be released.

Crown Casino's head of international VIP gambling, Australian Jason O'Connor, will be released next month after serving a 10-month sentence.

The release came after 19 employees were detained in October as Crown tried to attract high-spending Chinese to its casinos outside of China, where gambling is illegal except in the territory of Macau.

A court jailed 16 of those employees, including the three Australians, for nine to 10 months, back-dated to their October detention.

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 employees were fined a total of $1.67 million.

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

The incident prompted Crown to shift focus to its home market.

It had been a shareholder of Macau-focused Melco Resorts & Entertainment Ltd but sold its remaining stake for $1.16 billion in May.

The Crown group holds casino licences in Melbourne, Perth and Sydney, where its Barangaroo property is scheduled to open in 2021.

In March, the ABC's Four Corners reported Crown had developed a business model based on luring rich Chinese, known as VIP high rollers, to its casinos.

Australia 'not a special case': law expert

University of New South Wales law lecturer, Dr Jeanne Huang, said she did not think the incident would affect Australia's relationship with China.

"This is not a special case or particularly targeted [at] Australian companies," she told ABC News.

"In recent years the Chinese Government, Chinese court has taken comprehensive activities to deter Chinese citizens from using public money to gamble outside China.

"We see cases against Singaporean companies, cases against South Korean companies, so there are a lot of similar cases going around."

Dr Huang said the sentences given to the employees were relatively moderate.

"If you put all the scenarios together, this judgement is a very cautious judgement and the court did not [give] three years, which is the maximum length for this kind of offence," she said.

"So I think nine months or 10 months are very reasonable and cautious.

"It complies with Chinese law and it also shows respect to Australia and China's relationship."

ABC/wires