Crown Resorts meets with officials to try to establish fate of casino staff arrested in China

Consular officials making arrangements to visit Australians as board receives update from Department of Foreign Affairs

Crown Resorts has met with staff from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as it tries to establish the fate of 18 of its staff arrested four days ago during raids in China.

Among the detained are four senior executives from Australia, understood to have been in the country to lure high rollers from China, where gambling is largely illegal, to Australia. Crown has been unable to make contact with its staff since the raids and arrests across four cities Chinese cities, which began on Thursday night.

“The Crown Resorts board met last night to receive an update on the latest information provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade,” a spokeswoman said.

“The board was also provided with an update on the arrangements, which were being made to make contact with the detained employees and to support their families during this difficult time.”

Crown shares fell by 14% on Monday as news of the arrests spread. The Chinese government last year announced a crackdown on the gambling industry, including the marketing and advertising of overseas casinos and those at Macau, where gambling is legal, to Chinese mainlanders.

Authorities officially alerted the Australian government to the arrests on Monday evening, with a bilateral agreement between the countries requiring notification of arrests within three days.

In a statement issued on Monday evening, the foreign affairs minister, Julie Bishop, said: “Consular officials in Shanghai are making arrangements to visit the Australians to offer appropriate assistance, all of who have legal representation provided by their employer.”

While Chinese authorities have yet to declare what the detainees have been charged with, Fairfax Media reported that charges were expected to be laid on Tuesday.

Crown competitor Star Casino, which also sends executives to China to lure high rollers, refused to comment to Guardian Australia. However, it is understood Star and other casino chains have pulled their international staff from China as a precaution in the aftermath of the arrests.


Melissa Davey

The GuardianTramp

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