Australian billionaire, witness in Netanyahu case, quits own company

James Packer, named witness in a bribery investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, quit the board of his private company on Monday.

Australian gambling tycoon James Packer looks on during day two of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo November 13, 2013 (photo credit: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE)
Australian gambling tycoon James Packer looks on during day two of the Commonwealth Business Forum in Colombo November 13, 2013
(photo credit: REUTERS/DINUKA LIYANAWATTE)
SYDNEY - Australian billionaire James Packer, named witness in a bribery investigation into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu,  has quit the board of his private company Consolidated Press Holdings (CPH), a spokesman said on Monday, four months after he left the board of casino operator Crown Resorts Ltd citing mental illness.
Packer, a friend of the Netanyahu family, is alleged to have given Netanyahu’s elder son, Yair, lavish gifts, including free hotel rooms and flights, in order to influence his father.
Israeli police recommend bribery charges against Netanyahu, February 13, 2018 (Reuters)

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Packer, 50, "has stepped off the CPH Board as he continues his recovery from illness," a spokesman for Consolidated Press Holdings said in an email. CPH owns 46 percent of Crown, the world's seventh-largest listed casino company.
The exit appears to complete Packer's winding down from day-to-day corporate responsibilities following a tumultuous period.
The 50-year-old formed Crown after selling his late father's media empire a decade ago, then built it up before quitting in 2015 amid heavily publicized personal upheaval including a brief engagement to singer Mariah Carey.
He rejoined Crown a year later during a period of turmoil for the company when a dozen and a half of its employees were jailed in China for alleged breach of gambling marketing laws there. He stayed with Crown for 14 months before quitting again in March.
Packer, a central figure in investigations into Netanyahu in Case 1000, the "Gifts Affair," was reportedly sought by Israeli police for questioning in April in conjunction with the investigation. Police were prepared to fly to Australia to question him, but he lives on a yacht at sea much of the year, making questioning him too much of a challenge, and the prime minister was eventually recommended for indictment in the case.
Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.