Saudi Sheikh Owes More than £2 Million to a London Casino
May 28th, 2020 3.00pm
If you‘re a fan of James Bond movies, then Les Ambassadeurs casino in London is a familiar name to you, as the famous British secret agent introduced himself to the world at this very location.
Now, this private London venue has once again made the headlines, but not because of its ties to 007. According to a recent statement made by the casino, a sheikh from Saudi Arabia, Salah Hamdan Al Balawi owes the casino more than £2 million in gambling debts.
And the management is giving its best to get the money from the casino high rolling member.
The Rich Businessman Has Failed to Pay His Debts
The casino‘s exclusive private club, known as Les A, has even filed a lawsuit against Al Balawi, as the sheikh has failed to settle his debts. At this moment, sheikh‘s obligations exceed £2 million. That‘s why the casino has asked the court to freeze Al Balawi‘s assets in the United Kingdom.
The court documents reveal that Al Balawi did promise to pay his debts, although he failed to do so. Explaining the freezing order, the filing submitted by the casino said Al Balawi had gone to Saudi Arabia, a country known for its hostility towards any sort of gambling debts, and where any decision made by a British court would probably never go into effect. That‘s why the order was a necessary thing to do.
However, Judge Clive Freedman rejected the motion, giving a thorough explanation on why he deemed this plea „unreasonable“. According to him, the Saudi sheikh has strong ties with the UK, where he owns a Carlton House Terrace mansion. The estimated value of this property is around £45 million, which is why Freedman believes Al Balawi wouldn‘t move his assets back to his homeland.
Why is Les A So Popular?
Movie aficionados, and gamblers alike, know the famous scene from the first James Bond movie from 1962 – Dr No – where Sean Connery appears for the first time as agent 007. A character asks his name, and he answers using the cult line “Bond, James Bond”, while the recognizable Bond theme starts playing in the background.
Les Ambassadeurs casino was the place where that scene was filmed. Nearly 60 years later, this venue has become a members-only club, with an annual membership costing nearly £25,000. That‘s £25,000 a year just to be able to enter the club!
The current owner of Les Ambassadeurs is Imagi International Holdings, a conglomerate from Hong Kong, specialized in entertainment, financial services, and computer graphics. The company bought Les A back in 2019 from Paul Suen Cho Hung for £120 million. That a staggering sum, although Paul Suen paid even when he bought the casino from Landing International 2017 – a little over £261 million.
Les Ambassadeurs offers its members a wide selection of casino games, including baccarat, roulette, three-card poker and blackjack. The list of members includes celebrities from all over the world and even royals. The casino is open 24/7.
About Al Balawi
Sheikh Salah Hamdan Al Balawi is the owner of the Saudi-based company SAB-Holding Group. Over the years, the 52-year-old businessman invested in various industries, from communications to retail, medical, real estate and construction.
SAB-Holding Group has been doing business with a number of the leading names in the market, such as Microsoft, Intel, Ernest & Young, Booze Allen Hamilton, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.
The company, described as „highly successful conglomerate“ is located in Jeddah, one of the biggest cities in Saudi Arabia, with offices in Cairo, Dubai, and of course, London.
Les Ambassadeurs casino was the place where the popular scene from Dr No was filmed.