Australian Billionaire Resigns from Casino Company
Posted March 20, 2018 10:23 p.m. EDT
SYDNEY — James Packer, a colorful Australian billionaire who has found himself embroiled in a corruption scandal involving Israel’s prime minister, has resigned as a director of Crown Resorts, the casino company that is a source of much of his wealth.
In a statement, Crown cited “personal reasons” for his departure without giving further details. But Consolidated Press Holdings, an investment company owned and controlled by Packer, said in a statement that “Mr. Packer is suffering from mental health issues.”
“At this time,” the company said, “he intends to step back from all commitments.”
Packer is one of Australia’s richest men, a globe-trotting billionaire who had been engaged to Mariah Carey, formed a film production company with Brett Ratner in Hollywood — and most recently became entangled in a corruption investigation involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel.
According to police in Israel, expensive cigars, jewelry and pink champagne flowed into the prime minister’s official Jerusalem residence — and one of the patrons was Packer, who has said he was only giving Netanyahu what he demanded.
The case is still under investigation.
Recently, Packer has been shedding assets. In December, Crown sold a vacant Las Vegas lot where it had intended to build a major casino. A month ago, Packer sold off more than 100 million Australian dollars (about $75 million) of his own shares in Crown.
After that sale, his remaining stake was valued at more than AU$4 billion.