Casinos chase high-roller who left £11m trail of dud cheques - Saturday 16th of February 2008

A high-rolling Arab gambler is being chased through the British courts after he wrote a casino two cheques worth almost £7million combined - both of which bounced.

Ahmed Al-Reyaysa exchanged the cheques, worth £3.07million and £3.6million, for gaming chips at the Clermont club in Londons Berkeley Square.

After he spent the money on the clubs roulette wheel, the casino discovered that Al-Reyaysa did not have enough cash in his bank account to honour the cheques.

Yesterday the Clermont went to the High Court to try to reclaim its share of the £11million Al-Reyaysa obtained by writing bad cheques to casinos in the capital.

The court heard that the 45-year-old United Arab Emirates citizen thought nothing of gambling millions in one evening. In one 18-month period he spent £150million at the Clermont alone.

He was a familiar face at most of Londons exclusive casinos including 50 St James, Aspinalls and the Ritz hotel casino.

He took out suites in Londons most expensive hotels and stayed for months at a time.

He is thought to have received his money from his father, a close friend of the multi-billionaire leader of the oil-rich UAE state of Ajman.

It is not known why, at around the beginning of 2000, he suddenly became unable to pay his gambling debts.

The Clermonts former owner Grosvenor Casinos has already won a High Court ruling for £7,363,675 from Al-Reyaysa, but he has never paid.

Yesterday the firm launched a landmark legal action against Al-Reyaysas bank to reclaim the cash.

The High Court was told that the National Bank of Abu Dhabi committed a fraud by wrongly claiming that Al-Reyaysa had sufficient funds in his account to honour the cheques.

The court heard how, in February 2000, Al-Reyaysa gave the Clermont a cheque for £3.07million, to be drawn on his National Bank of Abu Dhabi account.

Taking Al-Reyaysa on trust, the casino exchanged the cheque for chips which Al-Reyaysa subsequently lost on the clubs roulette wheel.

Four days later, the Clermonts bank NatWest phoned the National Bank of Abu Dhabi to confirm the cheque would be paid.

NatWest was told that it would. As a result, the casino accepted a second cheque from Al-Reyaysa, this time for £3.7million. Neither cheque was honoured.

Stephen Phillips QC, acting for Grosvenor Casinos, argued that the club lost out financially because a National Bank of Abu Dhabi manager approved the first cheque.

However, the banks defence team argued that the manager was justified in claiming the cheque would be honoured as it was "inconceivable" that Al-Reyaysa would not be able to pay. The case continues.

Al-Reyaysa is being sued by the Ritz casino after he gave them 31 bad cheques worth a total of £2.25million.

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