SINGAPORE — A Singapore court has spared a casino player from paying an alleged Australian baccarat debt of A$43 million (then S$44 million). However, he failed in his appeal in a court in Brisbane to stop the casino from suing him in Australia.
A three-judge Queensland Court of Appeal panel says Dr Wong Yew Choy, who suffered alleged gambling losses at Star Gold Coast Casino in 2018, should not have assumed his dispute with the casino had ended once the court case in Singapore was dismissed. .
“The judgment in the Singapore proceedings made it clear that it was only through the procedural defence, available to Dr Wong in this forum, that the case was dismissed,” the appeals judge wrote last month. Philip McMurdo on behalf of the Court of Appeal.
The Star Entertainment sued Dr Wong in the Singapore High Court in February 2019 over alleged losses at the Queensland casino between July 26 and August 2, 2018.
The Star sought to recover A$43,209,853.22, the value of a dishonored check he had signed which breached a check cashing agreement signed with him.
In Singapore’s Court of International Trade reasons for decision issued in 2020, international judge Jeremy Cooke ruled that The Star’s claim breached Section 5(2) of the Civil Law Act, citing an earlier ruling by court of Appeal. The article prohibits the collection of gambling debts, subject to certain exceptions.
Court documents said that a year earlier in 2017, Dr Wong had traveled to Australia and gambled at a Sydney casino operated by a company linked to The Star.
On this trip, he signed a blank check, but left it undated along with the payee and the amount blank.
In an agreement he made with The Star in 2018, it was agreed that if Dr Wong provided “a replacement check” to The Star with the amount and date left blank, The Star was authorized to fill out this. check with an amount equal to what was outstanding and to date the check.
Based on this provision, The Star filled in the check inserting the amount of S$45,145,654.64, the date of September 7, 2018 and his name as payee.
The Star deposited the check into his account with the National Australia Bank, but by then Dr Wong had taken action which resulted in the check being dishonoured, according to court documents.
In the ongoing lawsuit, which began in 2020, The Star has sought A$43,209,853.22 in damages for breach of the facility agreement.
Dr Wong, a Singaporean, requested but failed to have the lawsuit dismissed or granted a stay by a Brisbane judge.
He then brought the case before the Court of Appeal, which dismissed it with costs.