March 21, 2018

Billionaire James Packer resigns from Crown Resorts for 'personal reasons'

Australian billionaire James Packer resigned from his gaming empire Wednesday.

Crown Resorts announced that Packer is stepping down for "personal reasons."

"We have appreciated James' contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time," Crown Resorts executive chairman John Alexander said in a statement.

It is just the latest public setback for the casino and entertainment mogul.

Packer is best known in the United States for his brief engagement to pop singer Mariah Carey.

In recent months, his name has been linked to a major corruption investigation tied to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Israeli authorities have named Netanyahu as a suspect in multiple criminal investigations in Israel, including a case where police say he received gifts worth 1 million shekels ($280,000) from overseas businessmen.

Netanyahu has denied the allegations. "Qualified legal experts will arrive at one conclusion of the simple truth. There is nothing," he said in February.

Australian police interviewed Packer at the end of last year about the nature of his relationship with Netanyahu, according to Australian media.

He was interviewed as a witness, not a suspect.

"Mr Packer participated in the interview on a voluntary basis as a witness for an investigation being conducted by Israeli authorities," a spokesperson for Australian Federal Police confirmed to CNN on Wednesday.

Packer and his lawyer were fully cooperative, and Packer "is not suspected of criminal conduct in either Israel or Australia with respect to this investigation," the spokesperson added.

Crown Resorts owns casinos in Australia and London. The company exited Macau in 2017, after China's crackdown on gambling resulted in prison sentences for a senior Crown Resorts executive and 15 of his colleagues.

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