Billionaire faces Prison over £2.2m Gambling Debt

Billionaire businessman Safa Abdulla Al Geabury owes London’s Ritz Casino a £2.2 million gambling debt, but he refuses to pay it. Now, the property tycoon is facing prison time if he doesn’t pay back the debt.

Al Geabury previously argued that he shouldn’t have to cover his losses because Ritz Casino should have made him stop. The 52-year-old also claimed that the “the Devil made [him]” continue gambling. A High Court judge rejected the argument as “deliberately dishonest” and ordered him to pay the £2.2 million.

The Evening Standard now reports that Mr. Justice Spencer found Al Geabury has not paid the money and recommended that he be jailed for 10 months as a result. However, the sentence could be reduced to 6 months if he agrees to pay back the Ritz.

The businessman is in Switzerland right now and said that he couldn’t afford a flight back to attend the High Court hearing. However, the judge believes that there is “evidence of enormous capital wealth” and carried out the hearing as scheduled.

Justice Spencer’s opinion that Al Geabury is misrepresenting his wealth played into the 10-month prison recommendation.

“I’m sure on all the evidence that the defendant was well aware of the obligations to provide information as to his worldwide assets”, the judge said.

“I’m sure that he was sent the order promptly by solicitors – I’m sure he was notified by solicitors of the relevant terms of the order. I’m sure he deliberately chose to do nothing to comply with these orders and deliberately shut his eyes to the obligations upon him.”

Al Geabury emailed the Ritz’s solicitors the night before the hearing and offered to return to be questioned about his assets, but only if they paid for his flight and accommodations. The judge believes that this was merely a ploy to put off the responsibility of paying the debt.

The billionaire previously bragged about owning $1 billion worth of Islamic art in Geneva. He also owns a home in the posh Grosvenor Square, Mayfair area of London, which is why he was playing at the Ritz.

He racked up the controversial gambling debt in February 2014 and gave Ritz management a check to cover the £2.2 million amount. But the check bounced, and the casino began court proceedings after Al Geabury stalled on further payment attempts.

Al Geabury has since counter-sued for £5.4 million based on the conduct of the casino’s senior management. However, Justice Spencer has never seriously entertained the idea that the managers were at fault for Al Geabury’s failed gambling spree.

“He manufactured evidence in relation to his supposed gambling addiction, and advanced numerous statements he knew to be false,” said Spencer.