Australia, March 21 (BBC/newsin.asia) Australian billionaire James Packer, who during the former Sri Lankan regime planned to develop a $400 million luxury hotel and resort in the island country, resigned as a director of his casino empire Crown Resorts Limited owing to mental health issues.
According to a report in the BBC, Packer, 50, rejoined the board of Crown in August after stepping down in 2015 as chairman and director.
The Australia-listed company thanked Packer, one of the nation’s richest people, in a brief statement on Wednesday.
“We have appreciated James’ contribution to the board and respect his decision to step down from his role as director at this time,” executive chairman John Alexander said.
A spokesman for Packer’s Consortium Press Holdings, Crown’s largest shareholder, said the magnate “intends to step back from all commitments”.
Earlier this month, Packer sold more than A$100m ($76m; £55m) worth of Crown shares. He retains a dominant stake of about 47% in the company, which owns casinos in Australia and London.
He had only rejoined Crown’s board last year after the company exited its Macau and US investments, and switched its focus back to Australia.
It followed the jailing of 16 Crown employees in China for illegally promoting gambling.
Packer is Australia’s eighth-richest person with an estimated fortune of A$4bn ($3.1bn; £2.2bn), according to Forbes.
Packer’s Crown had, in 2013, during the regime of Mahinda Rajapakse, signed up Australian Cricketer, Michael Clarke, as part of its campaign to build a $400 million casino resort in cricket-mad Sri Lanka.
If the project had gone ahead, the $400 million venture, branded “Crown Sri Lanka” would have been situated on Beira Lake in the heart of Colombo. It would have included 450 rooms and suites, and mirror Crown’s developments in Australia with a combination of fine dining and entertainment options.
The new government of President Maithripala Sirisena who was elected to Office in 2015, decided to scrap tax concessions for Packer’s project following which Packer’s Crown Group said it would not go ahead with the Sri Lankan plans.
Prime Minister Ranil Wickremesinghe had then told Packer not to, in this lifetime, ever come to Sri Lanka.