Les Ambassadeurs Club, an exclusive London casino, is seeking to recover a £10m gambling debt from prominent Chinese businessman Yu Songbo through legal proceedings. [Image: Shutterstock.com]
Seeking a global freezing order
Les Ambassadeurs Club in London has failed in its court appeal to get a global freezing order put in place on the assets of a Chinese businessman in an attempt to recover over £10m ($13.7m) in gambling debt.
Yu Songbo is a real estate developer from Zhoushan in eastern China. At one point, he was reportedly among the richest 150 people in the country. He has been a member of Les Ambassadeurs since 2014; his family was worth £1bn ($1.37bn) at the time of joining.
had spent about £19m ($26m) on gaming chips at the casino
The exclusive casino in Park Lane has attempted to get a worldwide freezing order on Yu’s assets. He had spent about £19m ($26m) on gaming chips at the casino over the course of five days in 2018. The casino is attempting to recover £10m ($13.7m) after the tycoon’s checks bounced.
Not sufficient evidence
During the initial High Court hearing, it was revealed that Yu Songbo cashed checks for £19m at the property from April 27 to May 1, 2018 in order to purchase gambling chips. As part of the appeals court ruling on Monday, it was confirmed that all of these checks had been “subsequently dishonored.”
Les Ambassadeurs Club served its legal proceedings to Yu via WeChat, the Chinese messaging app. This led to them coming to a repayment arrangement, reducing his debt to £6.54m ($9m). He stopped making payments, however, and aside from a Lunar New Year greeting, the casino’s lawyers said that the property had received no further communication from the businessman. Therefore, they reinitiated court proceedings.
Last November, a High Court judge ruled that the total debt that Yu owes is slightly more than £10m ($13.7m). This includes legal costs and interest. In April, the club sought a global freezing order as it had not heard anything from the businessman, but the judge said that there was not enough evidence to prove that the businessman would attempt to hide assets in order to not repay the debt. This is why the original judge did not grant the freezing order.
The Court of Appeal on Monday came to a similar verdict. The three-judge panel in the Appeals Court did say, though, that there is “undoubtedly evidence that Mr Yu was disinclined to pay his gambling debts voluntarily.”
Previous legal action
This is not the first time that Les Ambassadeurs Club has had to pursue legal action against one of its prominent gamblers. It had to file legal action against the chairman of a property and construction empire in Saudi Arabia.
Sheikh Salah Hamdan allegedly owed the casino £2m ($2.7m) after he had sent 17 checks to the casino that ended up bouncing. A global freezing order was put in place on the Saudi businessman and was subsequently lifted in 2020.
Les Ambassadeurs Club has a long and storied history. It has been the location for scenes in Dr. No, the very first James Bond film, and has been featured in other movies and television shows.