The Crown Resorts staff currently detained in China have officially had their case handed to local prosecutors, local media reports.
On Wednesday, the Australian Financial Review confirmed the case was given to Shanghai's Baoshan District People's Procurator two weeks ago, which is a crucial step prior to charges being laid.
According to the AFR, the handing of the case to a district rather than city-level prosecutor is potentially good news for the casino operator, as it suggests authorities are pursuing lower level charges.
"Giving the case to a district-level procurator implies a less severe or shorter sentence," said Shanghai criminal lawyer Si Weijiang, quoted by AFR.
It is understood Crown staff who were first arrested in October 2016 are being held at the Shanghai Detention Centre. It has also been confirmed that a total of three junior Crown staff members were released on bail last year, leaving 14 staff in custody.
Mr Si said it would usually take the procurator's office another three months to review the case, before handing it over to a local court to set the trial date.
The detained staff are looking at a maximum of three years’ jail if convicted for “gambling-related crimes".
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