MBS wins suit to recover $240k

MBS wins suit to recover $240k
Mr Ong has to pay back $240,868 plus interest to MBS. -ST

SINGAPORE - The first casino debt collection case in Singapore has resulted in a win for Marina Bay Sands (MBS), which means it can recover the $240,000 it extended as credit to a patron.

Mr Lester Ong Boon Lin, 33, had contested MBS' claim, arguing that the debt was not recoverable as he was not a "premium player" under the law and that MBS breached casino regulations in giving him credit.

But in a 30-page judgment released on Tuesday, High Court Judge Lai Siu Chiu held that Mr Ong was a premium player and MBS had complied with the rules.

Mr Ong was ordered to pay back $240,868, plus interest at 12 per cent per annum, calculated from Aug 15, 2010, until the date he pays in full. He also has to bear MBS' legal costs, which will be determined at a later date.

MBS' lawyer S. Suressh said the judgment will impact other suits involving casino patrons who refuse to pay their debts.

"Many defendants have raised allegations of technical breaches on the part of the casino as an excuse to avoid paying," said Mr Suressh, whose firm Harry Elias Partnership is handling 30 to 40 other cases for MBS.

"This judgment shows that the court will not entertain such fanciful and unmeritorious technical allegations."

Under the Casino Control Act, operators can extend credit to Singaporeans or permanent residents only if they are premium players.

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