The Singapore International Commercial Court has revealed that its 2019 decision against the Australian Entertainment Star Group in its efforts to recover AU $ 43.2 million (US $ 30 million) from a Singaporean businessman who refused to pay his gambling debts due to public policies aimed at protecting Singapore’s interests.
The case, which is described as the biggest casino debt case ever filed with a Singapore court, led Australian casino operators to chase 55-year-old Wong Yew Choy to get the money lost at the VIP table at The Star Gold Coast in 2018.
Wong alleged that a senior casino executive promised he would not be responsible for his losses until 29 July 2018 because of mistakes made by the baccarat dealers, nor would he be responsible for future losses if further mistakes were made. When another mistake was made on August 1, Wong immediately stopped playing, he said.
Also in dispute was the nature of The Star Gold Coast’s loan to Wong. According to Star Entertainment Group, Wong requested and was given a facility to cash checks worth AU $ 40 million, which then increased by another AU $ 10 million. Wong said he did not make such a request and instead was offered an AU $ 40 million credit directly.
Wong gave Star Entertainment Group a blank check upon arrival which was later filled out by the company, only to find out that Wong had canceled the check after returning to Singapore.
On the basis of a ruling issued last week, Singapore International Trade Court judge Jeremy Cooke expressed little mercy for Wong but explained that Singapore’s public policy specifically denies enforcement of gambling debts incurred in foreign jurisdictions.
“No matter how large it may be attached to the esophagus and it seems unreasonable for rich people to avoid what is called an ‘honorary debt’ only on the grounds of 5 (2) laws … for Singapore citizens to be able to bet with impunity outside a country in a regulated casino where he cannot do so if he bets in a regulated casino in Singapore, this is recognized … as necessary in conjunction with public policies that protect Singapore’s interests, “Judge Cooke said.
“The legislative policy has limited the effect of 5 (2) laws relating to the economic interests of the country and the desire to encourage foreigners to spend their income in licensed casinos here, either as part of an integrated resort or vice versa, while maintaining a paternalistic and controlling hand in connection with its own citizens and their exposure to these activities. “
Judge Cooke noted that Wong himself had benefited greatly as a result of his interest in online gambling operations, adding, “Defendants are not vulnerable individuals who need to be protected from exploitation, against themselves and their own inclinations, but in my judgment, s 5 (2) of this Act is clear in its effect and there are no exceptions to its provisions that can apply in this case. “
Star Entertainment Group stated at the time of its original ruling in October 2019 that they planned to appeal the decision.
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