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Australian casino billionaire James Packer admits he sent ‘shameful’ email threats

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Australian casino billionaire James Packer on Tuesday acknowledged sending threatening emails in 2015 to an unnamed person with whom he was working on taking Crown Resorts Ltd CWN.AX private while a director at the company he created.

Packer, during questioning by a government inquiry, blamed his “medical state” for the threats which he agreed were “shameful” and “disgraceful”.

Packer, who confirmed that he has bipolar disorder after revealing previously he had mental health problems, said he should have told shareholders about his personal issues instead of keeping them secret.

“I think my medical state is what it reflected most on,” Packer said of the emails to the person.

Packer, who quit the Crown board weeks later without disclosing medical issues, no longer works at the company but retains 37 per cent of Crown, a stake worth A$2.2 billion (1.57 billion dollars).

Report says Packer, one of Australia’s wealthiest people, shuns public attention beyond staged photo opportunities or prepared statements.

He testified via videolink in a jacket and tie from an undisclosed location, reported by Australian media to be on board a yacht in the South Pacific.

The government inquiry came as the New South Wales state casino regulator considered whether Crown should be allowed to proceed with plans to run a 75-floor, A$2.2 billion (1.6 billion dollars) casino tower in Sydney, just months before its scheduled opening.

The risk of the company losing its license grew in 2019 following media reports, denied by the company, that Crown hired tour operators linked to organised crime to bring wealthy foreign gamblers, largely from China.

Packer denied knowing that Crown staff set up informal offices in residential locations in Guangzhou, China, where advertising gambling is illegal, to avoid detection.

In 2016, 16 Crown staff were jailed in China for violating anti-gambling laws.

“I believe that Crown had legal advice that said what they were doing was legal; it’s a failure in compliance. A significant failure,” Packer said.

He was asked if he accepted that his actions in sending the emails to the unnamed person amounted to shameful conduct by a company director, he accepted.

“Yes, I do, my actions were disgraceful, because I’m being treated now for my bipolar (condition), because I was sick at the time,” he said.

Report says Packer continues testifying on Wednesday.

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