MBS sues Canadian over $11m debt

A Canadian gambler being pursued by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) over an $11 million debt has been ticked off by a court in his home country for trying to have the case transferred to Singapore.
A Canadian gambler being pursued by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) over an $11 million debt has been ticked off by a court in his home country for trying to have the case transferred to Singapore.PHOTO: ST GRAPHICS

Ontario judge raps debtor for bid to move case to S'pore, as MBS seeks to seize his property

A Canadian gambler being pursued by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) over an $11 million debt has been ticked off by a court in his home country for trying to have the case transferred to Singapore.

Canadian permanent resident Jian Tu was told by Ontario Superior Court Justice Sean Dunphy that the court was "not a sandbox playground where do-overs can be expected on demand".

In an unusual case, MBS has zeroed in on a foreign debtor in his home country rather than take the traditional route of securing a judgment in a Singapore court.

It is seeking a court order in Canada to seize Mr Tu's property to settle an $11.13 million debt arising from advances to support his bets at the casino.

"The stakes are high and this is no time to keep the powder dry," Justice Dunphy wrote in his judgment grounds earlier this month.

UNCONVINCED

I can only infer... that (Mr Jian Tu) has no serious defence on the merits and is merely seeking delay for delay's sake.

JUSTICE SEAN DUNPHY

"There is nothing before me to suggest that (the) defendant has any reason (other than delay) in seeking to require the plaintiff to re-commence proceedings in Singapore. Given the credit history obtained by (MBS), it would appear MBS is not the only casino from whom (Mr Tu) has obtained credit.

"A long list of other casinos, both in Ontario and abroad, appears upon it." MBS obtained a default judgment in Canada in June last year for $11.13 million after Mr Tu failed to defend the suit.

But he eventually surfaced and tried to set aside the judgment after MBS sought to seize his Toronto property in Ontario to settle the debt. Mr Tu argued the deal with MBS contained a clause that any spat had to be settled exclusively in a Singapore court, so the Canadian claim should be struck off .

But the judge ruled Mr Tu's argument "puts the jurisdictional cart before the default judgment horse", making clear the claim was not void despite such a clause.

He declined to give effect to the clause and move the case to Singapore, given that there was a nine-month "unexplained delay" by Mr Tu in reacting to MBS' claim.

He also rejected a claim by Mr Tu's wife, Madam Li Kang, that her husband did not get the statement of claim delivered to their Canada address as he was travelling between Hong Kong, Macau and Australia at the time.

The judge was not convinced by her explanations, noting that Mr Tu had not explained his defence for the suit, given the claim is a "fairly simple one" and the number of defences are not difficult to envisage.

"I can only infer... that (he) has no serious defence on the merits and is merely seeking delay for delay's sake. He has provided me with no evidence whatsoever to dispel this fairly obvious inference."

Justice Dunphy noted that MBS has not been paid by Mr Tu for almost three years, had to hire lawyers to track him down and has found the property he owns and secured a judgment.

He added: "Mr Tu has given this court nothing to weigh on his side of the balance beyond the inference that he seeks to buy time with a procedural argument."

The Canadian judgment obtained is expected to enable MBS to seize his Toronto property to help settle his debts.

It is understood that MBS has also started proceedings against Mr Tu in the High Court in Singapore in a bid to confirm his liabilities.

The case here is ongoing.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 23, 2015, with the headline 'MBS sues Canadian over $11m debt'. Print Edition | Subscribe