Related Essays and Reports by Andrew W Scott
High Roller Rolled. Is Crown Next?
October 8th 2007
While high roller Mr Chia Teck Leng
from Singapore sits in jail for embezzlement, is the
next target the casinos, including Melbourne's Crown
Casino, which pocketed his pots of cash?
Allow me to introduce Mr Chia who
recently wrote a
fascinating 5,700 word paper on the debate
currently raging in Singapore, now that it has decided
to legalise casino gambling.
However, we won't see Mr Chia embarking
on a speaking tour to discuss his thesis; he's currently
serving a 42-year sentence in Changi prison for the
biggest case of commercial fraud in Singapore's history.
Mr Chia defrauded four overseas banks, convincing
them to lend him SG $117 million (AU $88 million)
in the name of his then employer, Asia Pacific Breweries
(APB). APB, a joint venture between Heineken and the
Fraser and Neave group, brews Tiger Beer, popular
Needless to say the banks' money failed
to make its way into the brewery's coffers. The majority
of the SG $117 million was gambled away at various
casinos around the world by Mr Chia, who was then
APB's finance manager. In fact our very own Crown
Casino in Melbourne loomed large in Mr Chia's fraudulently
funded gambling spree. It is said that over the three
to four years he played at Crown, Mr Chia was flown
to Melbourne in luxury private jets more than fifty
Over this period, it's alleged he
deposited no less than AU $190 million into his Crown
casino gambling account. Chia himself admits he was
capable of losing millions in a day, and in fact would
bet up to $1 million on a single hand. At his very
peak he was acknowledged as the second biggest gambler
in the world.
How nice for Crown Casino to be a
lucky recipient of Mr Chia's largesse! I'm sure it
wasn't too motivated to investigate the source of
Chia's funds or to find out who he was employed by.
Of course Chia was afforded all the normal perks and
inducements commensurate with his level of play --
staying in Crown Casino’s very best room, the
famed 3918 with its private butler and million dollar
views of the city.
But this is where the story gets interesting.
The four defrauded banks, two from
Europe and two from Japan, have just commenced an
action in Singapore's High Court to recover the money
from APB, citing the fact that Chia was indeed APB's
finance manager and thus empowered to take out the
loans, which should now be repaid. APB counters that
the bank's systems of internal control were inadequate,
and they only have themselves to blame for handing
out the money so easily, as Chia was not authorised
to borrow the money. It is anticipated that during
the case Chia himself will take the stand, and this
may well shed light on the operational methods employed
by Crown Casino and other casinos around the world,
a subject normally shrouded in secrecy.
It is easy to compare the Chia case
to one I have written of previously, that of Kim Faithfull,
formerly manager of the Commonwealth Bank in Karratha,
Western Australia. Faithfull lost $17 million of embezzled
funds to IASBet, a Northern Territory based bookmaker
headed by celebrity bookie Mark Read. CBA sued IAS,
alleging IAS "wilfully shut its eyes to Faithfull's
fraud, or consciously refrained from inquiry"
as to the source of the stolen funds, and sought $17
million compensation. The judge questioned how the
"absolutely breathtaking" thefts could go
undetected by the CBA for so long, but also how IAS
continued to take the bets, knowing who Faithfull
was and what he did for a living. Years of legal battles
ensued, before IAS finally settled, repaying the CBA
$7 million. The IAS board described the settlement
as 'fair and reasonable'.
I wonder if Asia Pacific Breweries
is tempted to mount an action against Crown Casino?
They certainly have deep pockets.
Do you have the inside story on
a gambling spree gone wrong? If so, I would love to
hear from you.
E-mail Andrew Scott
2007 Andrew W Scott
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