Luck may finally be running out for Eddie Ye

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2003, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 04 June, 2003, 12:00am

Super Ocean Group owner used his own company for gambling exchanges

Eddie Ye Lipei is a man who loves to gamble. At the Crown Casino in Melbourne, he had a credit facility of A$500,000 (HK$2.56 million), lost up to $5 million a night and still had time for the occasional round of golf with the management.

He also rolled the dice with China's strict foreign exchange laws by arranging for high-rolling Shanghai punters to plough their cash on to the blackjack tables.

Mr Ye may consider himself to be short on luck of late. A court in Australia recently ruled against him in a dispute with the Crown Casino. His role as a conduit for other people's money backfired to the tune of A$2.2 million.

It also revealed that at least some of these exchanges were done through his company, Super Ocean Group, and carried a high risk: on one occasion, a Shanghai businessman on one of Mr Ye's 'junkets' lost A$80 million.

An Australian citizen, Mr Ye was a regular at the Crown as a 'junket' operator, earning a commission based on the turnover of the other high-rollers he brought to the table.

His nephew, John Ye, in a letter said: 'We all know, the key to attract premier players to Crown from China is somewhat solve the problem of fund transfer.'

He said that they were 'helping Crown by absorbing the risk of potential devaluation' of yuan.

During cross-examination, Mr John Ye was quizzed on the transfer from his or Mr Eddie Ye's or Super Ocean's account in Hong Kong against a promise for the punters to repay with the yuan equivalent.

'I decline the words of currency dealer,' he said. He stressed that if the company was involved, he would first get the consent of Mr Eddie Ye.

It was a flutter in October 2000 that soured the relationship with Crown. With 19 previous casino visits, Mr Eddie Ye notched up a turnover of A$121.98 million.

During the October trip, he claimed A$3.65 million was remitted into the casino's account to pay off debt and provide him with additional funds of $1 million. Crown, however, said - according to verbal instructions from Mr Ye - that $2.2 million was to be transferred to the credit of the junket of a Shi Pei Lin and $1.45 million was part payment on the outstanding debt.

As far as the casino was concerned, Mr Ye was a member of the Shi 'junket' and did not gamble on his own. There was no record of any casino credit being offered to Ms Shi, and the front money of A$2.2 million was lost. Ultimately, Mr Ye had an outstanding debt of $1.33 million to Crown.

After repeated attempts at repayment, the casino notified Central Credit that Mr Ye had a 'delinquent account'. By late 2000, Mr Ye was 'surprised' when five banks demanded that his Super Ocean Group repay loans or refused to extend credit.

Mr Ye's bad fortune began to do the rounds in Shanghai business circles. In an effort to regain his 'honour' and restore his 'loss of face', he sued Crown, alleging defamation, unconscionable dealings and deceptive conduct.

He told the court that Crown wrongly transferred the A$2.2 million and underwrote a gambling junket of a business acquaintance.

The judge disagreed. 'The key more than likely lies in the facility which Eddie Ye's corporate interests was able to afford in the provision of hard currency to overseas casinos on account of Chinese nationals,' the judge said.

'My impression was that he regarded bargaining with a foreign casino as fair game.'