|In the UK, casino operator Grosvenor Casinos has lost its action against a bank for almost $14 million in unpaid cheques.|
The operator owns the prestigious Clermont Club in London and took the National Bank of Abu Dhabi (NBAD) to court to recover monies owed by high-roller Ahmed Al-Reyaysa, a wealthy Middle-Eastern businessman who gambled almost $200 million and lost over $35 million in eight weeks beginning in December of 1999. Al-Reyaysa wrote two cheques for $6.09 million and $7.14 million from his NBAD account before losing the money playing roulette. His cheques later bounced and Grosvenor obtained a repayment order against him in court but could not enforce it as Al-Reyaysa is now beyond the jurisdiction of British courts in the United Arab Emirates.
The casino then filed charges against the bank claiming that an NBAD employee had told its bank, NatWest, that NBAD would honour the cheques. Grosvenor argued that NBAD was liable for the debt, as it had acted fraudulently.
“It seems to me inherently improbable that the NBAD employee was lying,” said Mr Justice Flaux in a statement.
“It is much more likely that he meant something slightly different from what the NatWest employee meant and understood.”
'This is an excellent outcome for NBAD and thoroughly deserved,” said Jonathan Kelly, Financial Litigation Partner for the legal firm representing NBAD, Simmons and Simmons.
“NBAD has vigorously defended itself since proceedings were first threatened by the casino in 2003. The bank’s robust approach has been vindicated.
“This is also an important result for international banking practice. Grosvenor’s claim that a contract existed between NBAD and the casino would have altered the ambit and effect of the rules for international cheque collections and left banks such as NBAD vulnerable to unintended contractual exposure to a range of third parties.”