China Detains 18 Employees of Australia's Crown Resorts for 'Gambling Crimes'
China has detained 18 employees from an Australian firm Crown Resorts, including its vice president of its V.I.P. international operations in an attempt to crackdown gambling in the country.
The Australian casino giant said on Monday it had not made contact with its workers yet and did not know why they had been detained.
Like Us on Facebook
China' Foreign Ministry, on the other hand, told Reuters that the some Australian nationals were held for suspected "gambling crimes." The ministry did not elaborate the allegations further, saying it is still investigating the matter.
However, local media reported that Crown Resorts' vice president Jason O' Connor was allegedly responsible for attracting rich Chinese gamblers to the casino's resorts in Australia.
The New York Times reported that the Crown employees were nabbed in a raid, which appeared to be connected to China's stringent measures against gambling, which prohibit Casino operators from advertising in China.
"The Chinese government seems to be making a clear statement about its view on gaming activity being offshored to foreign jurisdictions..." Vitaly Umansky, an analyst from Bernstein in Hong Kong, said.
"Crown apparently either thought nothing to worry about, or they have only recently revived operations in [China]. Whatever, they got it wrong," David Green, an analyst from Newpage Consulting, said.
The raids were reportedly held in Beijing, Shanghai, Chengdu, and Guangzhou, according to the Australian Financial Review.
Meanwhile, the Australian government confirmed that three of its nationals were placed behind bars.
"We are aware of reports of the possible detention of a number of Crown International Group employees across China overnight on 13-14 October, including three Australians," the Department of Foreign Affairs wrote in a statement.
"Chinese authorities have three days in which to notify of the detention of Australian according to the terms of a bilateral consular treaty."