Chiefs at the Les Ambassadeurs Club, which featured in the James Bond film Dr No and Beatles epic A Hard Day’s Night, are to sue a Chinese billionaire after he welched on paying a £10 million tab.
Yu Songbo was once among the 150 richest people in China, with his £1 billion fortune earned through property development and sales. He has a portfolio of properties around the world, and in 2016 acquired Brocket Hall, the Hertfordshire leisure and golf resort, out of administration for £10 million.
With a taste for the finer things in life, Yu travelled to London in April 2018 and purchased a whopping £19 million in chips at the Park Lane casino across a five-day span.
The Chinese entrepreneur paid for his chips with cheques that he cashed – but those would later bounce, leaving Les Ambassadeurs significantly out of pocket.
So now they want to take Yu to the High Court, with £10 million of his original payment still outstanding.
His cheques had been ‘dishonoured’, which basically means they bounced, and after casino officials contacted him via the Chinese messaging system WeChat, Yu agreed to settle a lump sum of the debt in monthly repayments.
But those payments stopped coming in December 2019, and Les Ambassadeurs have been battling through the courts in order to see Yu have his date with destiny.
A high court judge has ruled that the Chinaman owes the casino £10 million, with legal fees and interest charges on top of the original sum, and now plans are to have Yu extradited to the UK to face the court if he refuses to pay.
Les Ambassadeurs had requested that Yu’s global assets be frozen, however the same judge ruled that there was no evidence to suggest that the tycoon was hiding his assets in order to avoid repayment.
“There was no evidence that Mr Yu had ever taken any steps to put his assets out of the reach of creditors,” the court heard.
An Appeal Court panel also turned down the frozen assets order, although they did admit that Yu was ‘disinclined’ to settle his gambling debts voluntarily.
Lightning Strikes Twice
This isn’t the first time that a seemingly wealthy overseas visitor has pulled a fast one on Les Ambassadeurs.
In 2020, they were forced to take Sheikh Salah Hamdan Albluewi to the High Court after he failed to settle a £2 million tab.
The Sheikh, the owner of a Saudi construction empire that owns the Queen’s former property Carlton House Terrace, first joined Les Ambassadeurs as a member in 1993, spending an estimated £14 million in the casino since.
After racking up debts, Albluewi promised to settle his bill by paying in instalments via cheque, however it later emerged that 17 of those cheques had bounced after being banked.
Casino officials have been unable to contact the Sheikh, and so the High Court was their last option as far as repayment is concerned.
“Despite a promise of payment from Mr Albluewi, it never materializes and he ultimately goes to ground,” the firm’s lawyer argued.
“It has also become apparent that Mr Albluewi has run up significant gambling debts with other London casinos and has simply walked away from them, presumably back to the safety of Saudi Arabia, where such debts….are completely unenforceable.”