Businessman ordered to pay $2m in casino losses

File photo of the casino at Marina Bay Sands. Singaporean businessman Darwin Liman was ordered by the High Court to pay about $2 million after MBS obtained a summary judgment last month.
File photo of the casino at Marina Bay Sands. Singaporean businessman Darwin Liman was ordered by the High Court to pay about $2 million after MBS obtained a summary judgment last month.PHOTO: ST FILE

Amount is believed to be highest single sum owed that MBS got back in court last year

A premium casino player who once won US$2 million (S$2.9 million) at a Phnom Penh casino saw his fortune roll the wrong way at Marina Bay Sands - and MBS taking him to court for about $2 million in losses.

Mr Darwin Liman, 70, a Singaporean businessman, was ordered by the High Court to pay the sum after MBS obtained a summary judgment last month.

The sum comprised $1.92 million in credit due in July 2015, and another $113,696 in interest computed to April last year.

The amount is believed to be the highest single sum owed by a patron that MBS successfully got back in court last year.

While court papers filed show Mr Liman made multiple visits to the casino from 2010, the debt incurred arose from $2 million in credit chips which were issued to him in June 2015 and due some two weeks later.

He paid $50,000 in November and was given a $28,765 discretionary rebate by MBS based on his chip rolling turnover, under the programme he was enrolled in.

After deducting these two sums, he still owed MBS $1.92 million.

Drew & Napier lawyer Kelvin Tan applied for a summary judgment without the need for a full trial, arguing that Mr Liman's defence against the case was no more than a bare denial.

He said Mr Liman had not raised anything else other than not admitting the claims, and cited past case law that held this was not enough for a case to go to trial.

"Where the defence amounts to nothing more than a bare denial of the claim, the defendant is not showing cause but merely challenging the plaintiff to show proof," he said, citing court practice authority Jeffrey Pinsler from the National University of Singapore.

He added that Mr Liman had not filed any affidavit to lodge evidence of any issue that justified a trial, and given a clear case of a debt, he had to show there was a reasonably acceptable defence.

Supreme Court assistant registrar Shaun Perera agreed and ordered a final judgment for MBS, which included $6,500 in costs.

The outcome for Mr Liman was in sharp contrast to an earlier incident reported by Cambodian media in 2003, which said the US$2.04 million he won at the Naga floating casino was cleared by a Phnom Penh court.

His lawyer Low Chai Chong from Dentons Rodyk & Davidson declined to comment yesterday.

Last year was also the first time the casino sued the estate of a late patron to recover a debt.

Kluang-based Malaysian Lee Seng Wei was said to have been advanced $150,000 in April 2015. It was not repaid and MBS is seeking High Court sanction to serve the suit papers across the border on the two executors of his estate.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 07, 2017, with the headline 'Businessman ordered to pay $2m in casino losses'. Print Edition | Subscribe