Australian gaming firm says 18 employees detained in China

CANBERRA–A Crown Resorts Ltd. senior executive was among 18 employees detained in China, the Australia-based gambling company said Monday.

“Crown’s Executive Vice President VIP International, Jason O’Connor, is one of 18 Crown employees being questioned by Chinese authorities,” the company said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

“Crown is yet to be provided with details of why its employees have been detained,” it said.

Three Australians visiting China on business as well as local Chinese employees based in several major Chinese cities, including Beijing and Shanghai, were detained late Thursday, Fairfax Media reported over the weekend. O’Connor was among the Australians.

Crown declined to say why O’Connor was in China.

Crown said it had not been able to speak with its employees and was working with Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to make contact and to check on their welfare.

The department said China had three days to notify Australia of the Australians’ detention under a bilateral agreement. Since the Australians were reported detained on Thursday or Friday, notification could be expected on Monday.

“Consular officials will seek to offer appropriate consular assistance to the detained Australians,” the department said in a statement.

It was not clear whether any of the staff had been charged.

Crown said it was supporting the Chinese and Australian families of the detained employees.

Crown shares fell more than 10 percent in early trading after the Australian stock market opened on Monday.

Headquartered in Melbourne, Crown has gambling interests in Australia, Macau, Manila and London.

[Source:-Asahi Shimbun]