2 foreigners face suits over $16m in casino debts

Two foreign businessmen were taken to court in separate suits over casino debts here in excess of $16 million, with legal proceedings in Hong Kong and Australia to enforce judgments from Singapore.

Fujian-born Sze Siu Hung, 52, failed in his Hong Kong court bid to stop Resorts World Sentosa (RWS) casino from registering a Singapore judgment to recover $8.38 million in unpaid debt.

Mr Sze, who used $15 million in credit in 2011 at the casino, had made part payments totalling $5.57 million up to March 2015.

Some $1.05 million in rebates were set off against the sum owed, which left $8.38 million to be paid.

He argued in the Hong Kong court in June this year that he did not receive notice of the Singapore court proceedings by RWS in time to contest the case. Despite living and working in China, he had three addresses in Hong Kong where the papers for the RWS suit were sent in February last year.

He said this was ineffective as the default judgment against him followed the next month, when neither he nor his wife was in Hong Kong. He became aware of the suit last July when his wife checked the mailbox of one of the properties.

Hong Kong Deputy High Court Judge Alexander Stock dismissed his appeal against the casino's bid to register the Singapore judgment debt. The judge found RWS had notified his Hong Kong lawyers in December 2016 to serve the papers for the Singapore suit on him, but he had told them not to accept the papers on his behalf.

"By the time of the December letter, Mr Sze had actual notice of the Singapore proceedings" and "had ample opportunity to participate in the Singapore proceedings", said the judge in decision grounds last month.

Separately, Australian businessman Wang Zhi Cai, 63, is applying to the High Court here to set aside a judgment order for over $8 million obtained against him by Marina Bay Sands (MBS) casino last year.

MBS had successfully applied to a Sydney-based Australian Supreme Court judge in June to send notice of the Singapore default judgment, which has been registered in the Australian court, to his known home and business addresses in lieu of serving it on him in person. China-born Mr Wangracked up the debt in 2014, but bids to reach him at his given address in Australia were futile.

He applied to the Singapore High Court last week through his lawyer Alfred Lim to set aside the judgment. A hearing is due this month.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on August 02, 2018, with the headline '2 foreigners face suits over $16m in casino debts'. Subscribe