Posted on: December 14, 2020, 04:52h.
Last updated on: December 14, 2020, 05:31h.
A former Crown Resorts admin assistant arrested and jailed in Shanghai in 2016 on suspicion of “gambling crimes” is suing her former paymaster.
Jenny Jiang claims Crown’s VIP strategy in China “put profit before people.” Her lawsuit seeks damages, alleging Crown violated its duty of care towards its employees.
Jiang earned around $27,000 a year working for Crown’s China-based VIP marketing team. The department was tasked with recruiting high rollers to gamble millions at the Crown Melbourne’s high-stakes baccarat tables.
In June 2017, 16 of her colleagues, including three Australians, were sent to prison by the Baoshan District People’s Court of Shanghai for promoting gambling. Jiang was released earlier than the others because she did not play a direct part in enlisting gamblers.
In July 2019, she turned whistleblower. Jiang became the only detainee to talk to the media about the experience.
Speaking to Australian current affairs program 60 Minutes, she described the Shanghai Office as a Wolf of Wall Street-style operation, with huge bonuses and vacations to Las Vegas on offer for the most successful employees.
She also described the time she spent incarcerated among “drug dealers, pickpockets, and prostitutes,” and the overwhelming shame she felt about her criminal record and the stigma it had brought to her family.
She said she received no apology from Crown Resorts. She also refused a $60,000 hush money payment from the gaming giant.
Following the 60 Minutes interview, Crown went to the extraordinary lengths of taking out a full-page newspaper advertisement denouncing the findings of the documentary and intimating that Jiang was an untrustworthy gold digger.
During the recent public inquiry into Crown’s suitability to hold a license in the state of New South Wales, the company’s chair Helen Coogan admitted this had been “highly inappropriate.”
“Crown’s treatment has really impacted on her psychologically and continues to impact her on a day-to-day basis,” her lawyer, Jeremy King, told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC).
New Shareholder Lawsuit
The inquiry learned that workers were encouraged to remain in China to generate profits, despite warnings of an imminent crackdown on cross-border gambling by local authorities.
According to counsel assisting the inquiry, Adam Bell SC, the China incident alone was enough to cast serious doubt on the company’s suitability for licensing. It demonstrated “disastrous failures” of governance and risk management, Bell said.
The inquiry also learned that Crown has never held an internal review into the arrests because it’s still facing a class-action lawsuit from disgruntled shareholders over the incident. The results of such an investigation might harm its defense, the company explained.
But Crown faced a new class-action suit this week. Shareholders claim the board “engaged in misleading or deceptive conduct” between December 2014 and October 2020 for telling investors it had “robust or effective” anti-money laundering controls.
The latter assertion has been sorely challenged by the inquiry, and investors are concerned there is a very real possibility that Crown could lose its license in New South Wales.
This would force it to sell the newly finished A$2.2 billion ($1.6 billion USD) Crown Sydney. The property has been barred from opening pending the result of the licensing inquiry, expected in February.