A number of employees who worked for the Australian gambling company, Crown Resorts, were sentenced to pay fines and to jail time by the Chinese government this week.
The employees consist of mainly Chinese staff but also a number of Australians who were representing Crown Resorts in the Asian country.
They all pleaded guilty on Monday to charges that related to gambling. Of the 19 defendants, three were not fined or sentenced, while the other 16 were fined and sentenced to 9 or 10 months in Chinese prison.
Eleven defendants got nine months in prison, while the rest got 10. They were all ordered to pay back a total fine of $1.3 million, which will be covered by Crown Resorts.
Australians Sentenced in China
The three Australian nationals sentenced to jail time in China were from Crown Resorts' sales and marketing team. They were accused of breaking Chinese laws for the marketing and organizing of overseas gambling trips that involve 10 or more people. Casino gambling is also illegal in China, except in the Macau enclave.
The Australian Consul General in Shanghai, Graeme Meehan gave a statement outside the courtroom, saying: "The three Australians and the other defendants pleaded guilty."
The head of Crown Resorts International VIP Programs, Jason O'Connor was sentenced to 10 months in prison. Jenny Pan and Jerry Xuan, who hold dual Australia-Chinese nationality, each received 9 months.
Crown Resorts Refuses to Comment
Crown Resorts gave a statement about the sentences to the Australian Securities Exchange, noting that it would cover the fines.
Crown said that its employees were convicted of clauses that included organizing gambling parties, or being engaged in the employment of a gambling company. Both of these crimes carry a maximum sentence of 3 years in prison.
However, the company would not give out a statement to the media besides the following short sentence: "Crown remains respectful of the sovereign jurisdiction of the People's Republic of China and does not intend to comment further at this time."