Whistleblower Sues Crown Resorts Over Staff Treatment in China

  • Ex-Crown worker Jenny Jiang alleges that the operator breached its duty of care for employees
  • She was one of 19 members of staff arrested in China in 2016 for gambling-related offenses
  • Her whistleblowing in 2019 led to a significant NSW inquiry into company operations
  • Crown Resorts reacted by publishing full-page newspaper ads trying to discredit Jiang
  • The casino company is also facing two class-action lawsuits from shareholders
bronze statue of blind justice
A former Crown Resorts employee who was a whistleblower on the company’s staff treatment in China is now suing the casino firm for duty of care breaches. [Image: Shutterstock.com]

Seeking justice

A former employee at Crown Resorts and a whistleblower on the casino company’s activities in China is suing the firm for damages in the Supreme Court of Victoria. 

seeks compensation after Crown breached its duty of care

Jeremy King of Robinson Gill Lawyers, representing plaintiff Jenny Jiang, revealed that his client seeks compensation after Crown breached its duty of care as an employer. Jiang told a local media outlet last month that Crown was operating without care for its China-based workers. Its actions hurt her and her family, she added, while the company was not held accountable for such behaviour.

Jeremy King said: “Crown’s treatment has really impacted on her psychologically and continues to impact her on a day to day basis.”

Jenny Jiang was one of 19 Crown staff arrested and imprisoned by Chinese police in 2016 for breaking the country’s gambling-related laws. Her subsequent revelations last year on the company’s treatment of its workers in China led to a significant inquiry into Crown’s Australian operations by New South Wales (NSW) authorities in 2020.

A scathing attack

Jiang has been dealing with the consequences of her arrest in China and her whistleblowing ahead of filing the lawsuit. She held the role of administrative assistant for Crown Resorts in Shanghai over a five-year period before police apprehended her at her home in October 2016. After going to jail, Jiang lost her job. Now, her employment prospects are poor because of her criminal record.

Crown board never issued an apology after publicly labeling her a “gold-digger”

In 2019, Jiang alleged to various media outlets that Crown Resorts was putting its profits ahead of staff safety. In response, the casino operator published full-page advertisements in newspapers, questioning the “objectivity” of Jiang and citing her unsuccessful demand for compensation of “over 50 times her final annual salary.” Jiang recently informed local media that the Crown board never issued an apology after publicly labeling her a “gold-digger” in the said adverts.

The NSW Independent Liquor and Gaming Inquiry into the company’s operations began in January, with notable people providing testimony since. The inquiry findings are due in early 2021. Commissioner Patricia Bergin will then decide if Crown Resorts is suitable to hold a casino license in Sydney. 

While giving evidence, Crown Resorts chairperson Helen Coonan admitted that the newspaper ads discrediting Jiang were “highly inappropriate”.

Facing the music

Crown Resorts has been putting out fires on a number of fronts in 2020. The COVID-19 pandemic led to the closure of its casinos across Australia for an extended period, with obvious financial consequences.

Meanwhile, the NSW inquiry has forced the company to postpone the December opening of its new Barangaroo, Sydney casino. The ongoing probe has already uncovered evidence of money laundering at Crown casinos, as well as links to organized crime. 

AUSTRAC, the financial crimes watchdog in Australia, is also currently looking into Crown’s potential anti-money laundering (AML) breaches. Upon the announcement of this investigation on October 19, the company’s share price fell 8%. It sparked the filing of a class-action lawsuit by shareholders on December 11 in the Victorian Supreme Court, which claims that Crown misled investors about its AML compliance. 

Another class-action lawsuit, relating to the AU$1.3bn (US$979m) drop in Crown’s market value after the 2016 arrest of the 19 employees in China, has a 2022 trial date.

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