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Australian Crown staff will be out of Chinese jail within months

Mon, Jun 26, 5:53pm by Staff Writer

The three Australian Crown Resorts staff members who faced Shanghai’s Baoshan District Court on Monday – for promoting gambling in China – will be out of jail in the next two months, after they handed shorter prison sentences than many expected.

Crown’s head of VIP Operations, Jason O’Connor, from Melbourne, was handed the longest sentence of the three, with the court handing down a 10-month sentence, but because it includes time already served, he is expected to be released in two months.

The two other Australians detained were China-based staff Jerry Xuan and Pan Dan, who were handed nine months’ jail, which means they’ll be out in a month.

The trio all pleaded guilty to illegally promoting gambling on the Chinese mainland in a closed courtroom trial, and their lawyer says that all three are doing well.

There was a total of 17 staff and two former Crown employees who fronted court after they were charged in October last year. They were arrested in quite dramatic circumstances, with each of the employees’ homes raided.

Of the defendants, a total of 11 were given nine months behind bars, five others were given 10 months, and three junior staff, who had been on bail, were released immediately, and were not fined or jailed.

In a stock market announcement, Crown said that the defendants had also been fined a total $1.67 million, an amount that would be paid “ex gratia” by the James Packer backed company.

Crown’s head of China, Alfred Gomez, and three Chinese nationals – received the same sentence as Mr O’Connor and should be out on August 14.

No family members spoke to the media before the sentence was handed out, although some relatives arrived with flowers in expectation of an imminent release. The relatives were escorted into the court complex by a small team of Australian private security guards.

Australian consulate-general in Shanghai, Graeme Meehan, was also present at the trial, and briefed the media outside the court, confirming that “the three Australians and the other defendants pleaded guilty” and that “their time served began from October 14 last year. Media were not allowed to attend the trial.

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