A Brisbane judge has given the Gold Coast’s Star Casino approval to continue its legal action to recoup $43 million in allegedly unpaid gambling debts racked up by a Singaporean billionaire who fled the country before settling his tab.
Brisbane Supreme Court Justice Thomas Bradley on Wednesday (Mar 31) dismissed an application by Dr Yew Choy Wong to set aside Star Casino’s application to sue him for the unpaid debt on the grounds the claim had insufficient prospects of success to warrant putting Dr Wong to the time, expense and trouble of having to defend the action.
“(Star Casino) claims about $43 million from (Dr Wong) as damages for breach of a cheque cashing facility agreement or the same amount as liquidated damages for dishonouring a cheque,’’ Justice Bradley said.
“Dr Wong has applied for an order setting aside service of Star’s claim and statement of claim on the ground that the claim has insufficient prospects of success to warrant putting Dr Wong to the time, expense and trouble of defending.
Star Casino’s suit claims Dr Wong, a well-known billionaire high-roller gambler, dishonoured a blank cheque after a five-day losing streak playing the high stakes popular casino card game baccarat in July 2018.
Dr Wong is said to have been at the Gold Coast as part of a marketing junket and that he fled home to Singapore before settling his betting account.
Star Casino was unsuccessful in its bid to pursue Dr Wong for the alleged debt via the courts in Singapore, however, has been granted leave to continue its action in Queensland’s Supreme Court.
Star’s suit claims Dr Wong opened his Gold Coast casino account with a $40 million cheque to buy gaming chips before playing the baccarat tables.
Documents lodged in Queensland’s Supreme Court claim that within three days Dr Wong had lost the entire $40 million and despite the loss obtained a further $10 million in chips to continue gambling,
After seven days at the tables, Dr Wong is said to have left Star Casino owing $43,209,853.34 – including a room bill in excess of $420,000.
After returning to Singapore, Dr Wong allegedly stopped payment on a blank cheque he signed to cover his losses incurred during the stay.
Star Casino was unsuccessful in its bid to pursue Dr Wong via the courts in Singapore, however, has been granted leave to continue its action in Queensland’s Supreme Court.
In 2019, a Singapore court dismissed Star Casino’s lawsuit against Dr Wong to recover the outstanding debt.
The court cited the Singapore Civil Law Act prohibiting the government from assisting foreign companies seeking to recover debts related to overseas gambling.
However, Justice Jackson, in an 18-page written decision handed down yesterday, said Dr Wong had failed to persuade the Brisbane Supreme Court the claim by Star Casino had insufficient prospects of success.
“Star’s prospects are not fanciful,’’ he said. “On the contrary, Star appears to have a good arguable case with an obvious and substantial connection to this jurisdiction.
“Considering the circumstances of the proceeding, I am not satisfied Dr Wong is at risk of injustice, if the proceeding continues. If it were dismissed or stayed, Star would be prevented from having its claim against Dr Wong determined on its merits. That would be an injustice.
“For these reasons, the application by Dr Wong should be dismissed.’’
The proceedings continue.