MBS seeks immediate recovery of $2m debt from businessman 

SINGAPOREMarina Bay Sands (MBS) has asked the Singapore High Court for immediate recovery of a $2 million gaming debt from a Singapore-based Japanese businessman, according to court papers filed this week.

Takami Shinichi, managing director of Avixs Master Fund Pte Ltd, a Singapore investment management company, was sued last November after a cheque he issued to MBS bounced and he failed to respond to repeated requests for payment from its lawyers at Drew & Napier LLC.

Sunil Singh Panoo, Mr Shinichi’s lawyer, argued the $2 million debt is not enforceable because Mr Shinichi was not a premium player before he began gambling at the casino on June 25, 2010. This is because Mr Shinichi allegedly did not have the required minimum credit balance of $100,000 in his account with MBS before he began gambling, Mr Panoo said.

As such, MBS has acted as a moneylender under the Moneylenders Act and the credit extended to Mr Shinichi is therefore unenforceable, Mr Panoo said.

The lawyer had raised the same defence for his other client, Lester Ong Boon Lin, who is the subject of Singapore’s first gambling debt collection lawsuit by MBS. That case is now pending trial.

MBS, which applied for summary judgment against Mr Shinichi, said he had ‘no real or bona fide defence’.

In an affidavit filed this week, Oncu Cifteler, MBS’s executive director of casino finance, said: ‘The only substantive defence raised by the defendant . . . is that (he) did not qualify as a premium player at the time credit was extended to him as he did not have the minimum credit balance of $100,000 in his deposit account with (MBS) before . . . the commencement of play on 25 June 2010.’

But MBS said Mr Shinichi was a premium player at MBS’s Paiza Club after he deposited $300,000 with the casino on June 17, 2010.

‘It is clear that the defendant was a premium player for the period of one year from the date that (he) commenced play at (MBS’s) casino, that is, from 17 June 2010 to 16 June 2011,’ Mr Cifteler said.

MBS said Mr Shinichi was a regular patron of casinos, having established credit lines with four other casinos in addition to MBS since 2003.

Citing a gaming report from Central Credit LLC – which operates a centralised credit search system that allows casinos to analyse gamblers’ credit risk – MBS said Mr Shinichi had credit lines with Resorts World Sentosa and three Las Vegas casinos, namely Wynn/Encore Las Vegas, Bellagio and Venetian/Pal- azzo.

When asked about Mr Shinichi’s credit line with RWS, a company spokeswoman said RWS did not comment on customer information.

She reiterated an earlier statement that said RWS ‘has in place a set of standard collection procedures on debt collection, which includes reminders. We have, to date, no cause to take any of our customers to court. We monitor our debt accounts closely and frequently work with our customers on repayments.’

At MBS, Mr Shinichi allegedly started with a $200,000 credit line on June 25, 2010, but that increased to $2 million on April 16, 2011 after he submitted three requests to increase his credit limit.

MBS said Mr Shinichi repaid all the loans that were previously issued to him prior to April 15, 2011, but he failed to settle an outstanding debt of $1,999,324, which was incurred after that date.

On April 15, 2011, he was issued casino chips worth $1 million and, a day later, another $300,000 worth of chips on his request.

That same day, he asked for his credit limit to be increased to $2 million, which was approved by MBS, and he was issued another $700,000 worth of chips.

As part of a credit agreement with MBS, Mr Shinichi, on April 15, 2011, issued an HSBC cheque to the casino as security for any outstanding debt.

After he refused to pay his debt, MBS presented the cheque for payment on July 5, 2011, but it was dishonoured and returned to MBS two days later

By Grace Leong
The Business Times
Saturday, Feb 04, 2012