Crown hit for $4.5m - Friday 12th of August 2005

CROWN Casino is believed to have fallen victim to an international gambling racket.

The casino has was allegedly lost $4.5 million to a Thai woman, who brought high rollers to gamble in Australia.

Thongthip Aektrakul, 58, is being chased through South-East Asia by several casinos that claim she owes them millions of dollars.

Ms Aektrakul ran dozens of gambling tours to Australia and the US from the mid-90s until February 2001, when she allegedly ran up major debts at Crown, as well as Perths Burswood and the Gold Coasts Jupiters casinos, a source said.

She began bringing tours to Crown in 1996 and was given a $4 million credit limit by the casino.

"She brought a lot of money to (Australian) casinos through junkets," a source said.

"She was given a credit limit, then the gamblers go off and lose or win. It was her job to collect the money. In this case, she claims she wasnt paid by gamblers."

The three Australian casinos are seeking Ms Aektrakul for debts totalling about $12 million, which were allegedly incurred by Asian high rollers on tours she organised or was responsible for.

Private investigators have spent months in Thailand and neighbouring countries trying to find her.

The Sunday Herald Sun understands Crown is planning legal action to recover its money, but the casinos management refused to discuss the matter.

"Crown does not comment on whether people are or are not its customers, nor does it comment on its financial relationship with its customers," a Crown spokesman said.

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