Australia investigating report that at least 18 staff from Crown Resorts have been detained in China

The Crown casino in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian government is investigating a report that at least 18 employees from the Melbourne-based Crown Resorts have been detained by the Chinese authorities.
The Crown casino in Melbourne, Australia. The Australian government is investigating a report that at least 18 employees from the Melbourne-based Crown Resorts have been detained by the Chinese authorities. ST PHOTO: JEREMY LEE

SYDNEY (Bloomberg/AFP) - The Australian government is investigating a report that at least 18 employees from the Melbourne-based Crown Resorts have been detained by the Chinese authorities.

"Consular officials are seeking to confirm these reports with the relevant Chinese authorities," a spokesman at Australia's Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News.

"Crown believes that a number of our employees in China are being questioned by local authorities and at this time we can provide no further details," Crown Resorts said in an e-mailed statement to Bloomberg News.

The Australian Financial Review reported on Saturday (Oct 15) that employees, including three Australian citizens and at least one senior executive from James Packer's gaming company, were being questioned.

It was unclear why they had been detained or whether any charges had been laid, the report said.

Crown operates casinos across the world, including in Macau, where revenues have been hit hard by a Chinese corruption crackdown which has driven away many high-rollers.

Graft has become endemic in China and President Xi Jinping launched a much-publicised drive against it after he came to power in 2012.

Mr Packer, who is engaged to pop diva Mariah Carey, owns 53 per cent of Crown Resorts but resigned as chairman in 2015.