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TRADE WARS
Australia's Crown says all staff held in China now free
by Staff Writers
Sydney (AFP) Aug 14, 2017


Australia's Crown Resorts said Monday that China had released all of the casino group's employees who were detained as part of a gambling crackdown last year.

Mogul James Packer's gaming company said the last of the 19 current and former Crown employees had been set free after being held for 10 months.

"Crown is pleased that all of our employees have now been released and reunited with their families and loved ones," executive chairman John Alexander said.

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said the employees whose sentences ended on Saturday were expelled from the country the same day.

"We hope relevant countries can inculcate their citizens living in China to conscientiously abide by laws and regulations and not be engaged in illegal activities," Hua told reporters.

The 19 defendants had pleaded guilty at a Shanghai court in June and 16 of them, including three Australians, were given sentences of between nine and 10 months in jail. The sentence included time served since they were arrested last October.

Three who were granted bail in November were not jailed.

Jason O'Connor, the executive vice president of Crown division VIP International in charge of luring rich Chinese to Australia, had been given a 10-month jail term and a two million yuan ($292,000) fine.

The two other Australians, Pan Dan and Jerry Xuan, were given nine-month sentences and 400,000 yuan ($58,000) and 200,000 yuan ($29,000) fines, respectively.

The executives were accused of breaching local anti-corruption laws by organising banned gambling activities overseas for wealthy Chinese.

The episode prompted a major restructuring at Crown, which runs its flagship casino in Melbourne and is also developing a large gaming resort in Sydney.

With revenues from Chinese high rollers waning, Crown last year sold its stake in Macau's Melco joint venture and shelved plans for a Las Vegas casino, concentrating instead on its Australian operations.

Shares in Crown Resorts closed 0.43 percent higher at Aus$11.55 on Monday on the Australian stock exchange.

TRADE WARS
McDonald's to nearly double outlets in China
Beijing (AFP) Aug 8, 2017
Fast food giant McDonald's said Tuesday it would almost double the number of restaurants in China over the next five years as it refocuses on international markets amid slowing US sales. The Illinois-based burger chain will add 2,000 stores to its current 2,500 in China and aim for double-digit sales growth in each of the next five years, McDonald's said in a statement. In particular, it ... read more

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