One of 18 employees of Australia’s largest casino operator detained in China a month ago for suspected gambling crimes has been released on bail, a newspaper reported on Saturday. A junior Crown Resorts Ltd. employee on Friday became the first of the staff to be released, the company told The Australian newspaper. Crown did not immediately respond to a request for comment on Saturday. The released employee was Jenny Chiang, a 33-year-old Shanghai-based Chinese citizen who had worked for Crown for more than five years as an executive assistant, the newspaper reported.
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The head of Crown’s VIP International team, Jason O’Connor, was among three Australian and 15 Chinese employees detained on Oct. 13 and 14 in raids across China. They had been caught up in an apparent crackdown on overseas tours for high rollers.
The Chinese foreign ministry said the employees had been detained for suspected involvement in gambling crimes, but did not provide further details.
Casino gambling is illegal on the mainland and Chinese law prohibits agents from organizing groups of more than 10 Chinese citizens to gamble abroad. The crime is punishable by up to three years’ imprisonment. The industry has been known to skirt the ban by touting destination packages.
Casino operators have sought to lure Chinese high-rollers who have avoided Macau since President Xi Jinping’s ongoing corruption crackdown deters visits to the offshore enclave that is the only place in China where casinos are legal.
Last year, police arrested 13 South Korean casino managers and 34 Chinese agents for selling packages with free tours, free hotels and sexual services.