The ordeal for Crown Resorts employees jailed in China for gambling crimes is drawing to a close, with some of those imprisoned, including two Australians, released on Wednesday.
Ten of the 16 Crown employees who were fined and jailed walked free from detention facilities in Shanghai as their sentences expired.
Two Australians, ‘Jane’ Pan Dan and Jerry Xuan, are among those released.
Reuters reported that four employees, including Jerry Xuan, were with family and security officials as they left one jail, and immediately left in cars without speaking to reporters.
Six other Crown workers were released from another facility.
It is believed another Crown employee will be released on Thursday.
“Two Australians were released on 12 July at the conclusion of their sentence,” Australia’s Department of Foreign Affairs said.
“Due to our privacy obligations, we will not provide further comment on the individuals.”
The Australian government has provided consular assistance to the three Australian Crown employees since they were detained in Shanghai in October 2016.
Crown’s head of international VIP gambling, Jason O’Connor, is the remaining Australian who still has time to serve.
Crown Resorts is yet to comment.
Nineteen current and former Crown Resorts staff pleaded guilty to charges of illegal promotion of gambling on the Chinese mainland at a hearing in China in June.
Of those, 16 were fined and sentenced to a jail term.
Eleven received a sentence of nine months, and five a sentence of 10 months, with time in detention taken into account in all cases.
Mr O’Connor was sentenced to 10 months in jail and fined RMB2 million, or $A390,000.
Mr Xuan and Ms Pan, both Australian-Chinese dual nationals, received sentences of nine months’ imprisonment and fines of $A78,000 and $A39,000 respectively.
The marketing of casinos and organising overseas gambling trips for 10 or more people are illegal on mainland China, and authorities have been cracking down on gambling as part of a fight against corruption.
Crown Resorts, controlled by billionaire James Packer, had been luring wealthy VIP gamblers from China to Crowns’ casino-hotel resorts in Melbourne and Perth, and to jointly operated casinos in Macau.
Since the detentions, Crown has scaled back its Chinese ambitions, selling down its stake in the Macau-based joint venture Melco Crown, before offloading its final stake in Melco Resorts & Entertainment for $US987 million.