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Chinese lawyer tells Crown to come clean to help detained staff

Mon, Dec 5, 1:49pm by Staff Writer

Almost seven weeks on from their arrest, a prominent Chinese lawyer whose firm has helped defend Australian businesspeople in high-profile cases has urged Crown Resorts to issue a clear confession to Chinese authorities to help improve the fate of the 18 Crown employees.

Of the 18 employees arrested, only one, Shanghai-based Jenny Jiang, whose role was as an administrative assistant and who has an American husband, appears to have been released on bail so far.

Last week, the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade confirmed that the case involving the three Australian citizens employed by Crown who had been detained has moved into the “formal arrest” phase, which can take months of investigations before legal charges are laid.

DFAT said the three remain detained in Shanghai “on suspicion of gambling offences”.

It is believed the remaining 14 Chinese employees have also now been “formally arrested”.

A request for confirmation was made to the Public Security Ministry who did not respond.

The director of Hangzhou-based Capital Equity Legal Group, Chen Youxi said there were two principal ways in which Crown could improve the situation for its employees. He said: “A clear attitude will help. Crown needs to admit clearly to the Chinese authorities what it has done” and explain how it had gone about its business in the country.

Mr Chen’s firm led the defence of Australian businesspeople Matthew Ng and Charlotte Chou, both of whom are now living in Australia after about six years of detention.

“A promise that it will not in the future cross the line” in the “grey zone” between what was permitted by casino resort companies and what was not could also help, he said.

“It also needs to hire good lawyers to defend its employees.”

Shanghai law firm, Leezhao are leading the defence of the Crown employees, some of whom have also engaged separate lawyers to represent their interests. Lee­zhao has previously focused on corporate cases.

The firm have refused to make any contact with media to explain the plight of those arrested or to explain the extent of its own attempts to ameliorate their situation.

Mr Chen said it would prove helpful for a law firm in such a situation to communicate openly to media about a case, including core information about those arrested.

Mr Chen stated that they (the Chinese government) simply wanted to close down gambling and supporting activities.

Crown’s persistence in conducting business in China in the face of official warnings has seen the board come under increasing attack from shareholders.

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