The Melbourne-based casino operator released an official statement this morning confirming that Crown's executive Vice President VIP International, Jason O'Connor, is one of the 18 Crown employees detained by Chinese authorities.
The company says that it has not been provided with details of why its employees have been detained.
"To date, Crown has not been able to speak with its employees and is working closely with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade to urgently make contact with and ascertain the welfare of its employees."
It is believed that these arrests are a part of the Chinese government's much publicised crackdown in February last year to eliminate overseas casinos trying to attract and recruit Chinese citizens to gamble abroad. In October last year, South Korean casino employees were arrested in China for engaging in marketing activities to woo Chinese gamblers to its operations.
Following news of the arrests, the company's share price plunged 10.5 per cent to as low as $11.59 this morning. The arrests appears to have sparked concerns of further crackdowns of enticing Chinese gamblers to Australia as the share price of Sydney-based Star Entertainment Group Ltd also fell 5.2 percent.
Crown's latest annual report shows that overseas patrons, particularly from China, have been very important to the company's profits. CEO of Crown's Australia Resorts, Barry Felstead said:
"Crown Resorts' sustained focus on growing visitor numbers from China has paid off with our resorts in Melbourne and Perth now among the most visited tourist destinations in their respective states.
"In FY16 more than a third of revenue generated by our Australian Resorts was generated by international visitors, predominately from mainland China."
For Crown Melbourne, its international VIP business had a turnover for FY16 of $50.1 billion, which is the second highest turnover achieved by Crown Melbourne in its 19 years of operation at Southbank.
The Australian foreign ministry is aware of reports of the detention of a number of Crown employees across China. It has said that under the bilateral consular treaty, Chinese authorities have three days in which to notify the Australian government of the detention of Australians.
Crown is trading at 11.635 cents per share early this afternoon.
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