China sentences 16 from Australia's Crown Resorts to prison

The logo of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd adorns the hotel and casino complex in Melbourne Australia

The logo of Australian casino giant Crown Resorts Ltd adorns the hotel and casino complex in Melbourne Australia

A senior executive of Australian casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd. pleaded guilty Monday to gambling crimes in China and was sentenced to 10 months in prison, following an investigation that has roiled the industry.

Jason O'Connor, the executive vice president of Crown division VIP International in charge of luring rich Chinese to Australia, was given a 10-month jail term and a two million yuan (RM1.2 million) fine.

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They were fined a total of US$1.25 million (RM5.3 million).

The trio appeared with 16 other employees who were of Chinese nationality, and who also pleaded guilty.

The remaining three defendants who had been released on bail on November 11 were not fined or sentenced to prison, Crown Resorts said.

The Australian Consul did not provide any information about the sentences that were given to the Malaysian Alfread Gomez, the vice-president of Crown Resorts in China, and the Chinese employees of the company.

The accused arrived at the Baoshan District Court in Shanghai in the morning and a tribunal officer told AFP that a verdict may be issued later on Monday, but it was up to the judge. The companies have said their employees were released a year ago after serving jail terms of various lengths.

Jury questions posed during Bill Cosby's sex assault trial
Later in the day, Wyatt held an impromptu press conference outside the courthouse and said the judge should call a mistrial. They'll resume deliberations Friday morning in suburban Philadelphia. "We will await further word from the jury".

Crown said 17 are now employed by Crown and two are former staff.

Australian public broadcaster the ABC said that with eight months already served in detention, Mr Xuan and Ms Pan should each have one month remaining to serve in detention, while Mr O'Connor was likely to face another two months behind bars.

The group were detained by authorities as part of a clampdown by Chinese authorities into casino gambling, which remains illegal in mainland China.

A Crown Resorts media spokeswoman said the company would not be making any comment on Monday, but could release a statement in due course.

The marketing employees were detained in raids across China past year as Beijing cracks down on high-roller gambling promotions.

The hearing was held behind closed doors, but the court schedule showed the 19 were on trial for "suspected gambling".

Days after the detention of its staff in October, Crown said it respected China's jurisdiction and laws and the company needed to be "cautious and measured" in its commentary.

The arrests took place in October past year, after a police operation believed to target Crown's marketing activities.

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