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Gaming mogul Packer, questioned in PM probe, quits for ‘mental health’ reasons

Australian gaming tycoon and longtime friend of the Netanyahus ‘stepping back from all commitments’ to deal with personal issues

James Packer at a news conference of the Studio City project in Macau, October 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)
James Packer at a news conference of the Studio City project in Macau, October 27, 2015. (AP Photo/Kin Cheung)

SYDNEY — Australian tycoon James Packer Wednesday quit as director of his gaming empire Crown Resorts as he battles “mental health issues,” stepping back from all commitments, his company said.

The billionaire mogul has been in the spotlight for personal reasons in recent years following his high-profile engagement and subsequent split from US diva Mariah Carey.

He was also questioned by police in December over a corruption probe involving Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is suspected of receiving luxury gifts from wealthy supporters.

Packer is not suspected of criminal conduct in either Israel or Australia.

“Mr James Packer today resigned from the board of Crown Resorts Ltd for personal reasons,” said a spokesperson for his private investment vehicle Consolidated Press Holdings, which is Crown’s largest shareholder.

“Mr Packer is suffering from mental health issues. At this time he intends to step back from all commitments.”

Singer Mariah Carey strolls hand-in-hand with her significant other, Australian businessman James Packer, in Capri, Italy, in June 2015. (Screen capture: YouTube)

Packer had only returned to the board last year after previously stepping down to focus on international interests.

He returned to help oversee a revamp of the company after 19 current and former employees were held for 10 months in China on charges of luring rich Chinese to Australia.

They were released last August, but the case hurt Crown’s high roller revenues.

Crown has since been focusing on its casinos in Melbourne and Perth, and developing a Aus$2.4 billion (US$1.9 billion) gaming resort in Sydney.

“We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as a director at this time,” said Crown’s executive chairman John Alexander.

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