Bad cheque: Star sues high rollers

A high roller has left The Star casino $4.88 million poorer, after his cheque bounced when the casino presented it.

Thai gambler Nattachai Srirungsukpinij is one of 10 high rollers being sued by the casino, in an effort to recoup nearly $23 million in bad debts.

Court records inspected by BusinessDay show that the Bangkok-based high roller's debt to The Star has blown out to $5.33 million, with interest accruing at $1126 a day.

The Star filed claims against 10 high rollers in the NSW Supreme Court in late February. The high rollers come from countries including Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Echo Entertainment's disclosure that it had written off nearly $30 million following the failure of the VIP junket operator SilkStar Global Marketing and the high-rollers' bad debts, gave ammunition to James Packer in his war of attrition against Echo and its chairman, John Story.

Echo said SilkStar had gone into liquidation in March owing the casino $7 million. It also revealed some of the international VIP customers introduced to Echo by SilkStar had outstanding debts.

It said it had decided to increase the impairment provision against "this group of customers", which it said amounted to $22.9 million.

"Echo will, however, continue to vigorously pursue all avenues to recover the moneys outstanding from these customers," the company said.

Given the value casino operators put on ensuring the privacy of their high-rollers, the public court action is a high-profile foray into debt collection.

Echo went to court earlier this year and succeeded in gagging the ABC from using information it had obtained about high-rollers' identities.

llamont@smh.com.au

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