Australia's Crown says all staff held in China now free

Sydney (AFP) –


Australia's Crown Resorts said Monday that China had released all of the casino group's employees who were detained as part of a gambling crackdown last year.

Mogul James Packer's gaming company said the last of the 19 current and former Crown employees had been set free after being held for 10 months.

"Crown is pleased that all of our employees have now been released and reunited with their families and loved ones," executive chairman John Alexander said.

The executives were accused of breaching local anti-corruption laws by organising banned gambling activities overseas for wealthy Chinese.

The episode prompted a major restructure at Crown, which runs its flagship casino in Melbourne and is also developing a large gaming resort in Sydney.

With revenues from Chinese high rollers waning, Crown last year sold its stake in Macau's Melco joint venture and shelved plans for a Las Vegas casino last year, instead concentrating on its Australian operations.

Shares in Crown Resorts were down 0.87 percent at Aus$11.60 in early afternoon trade on Monday on the Australian stock exchange.