An Australian court has ordered a freeze on certain shares in Australia-listed casino operator Donaco International Ltd said to be held by three people that each hold a Thai and a Cambodian passport.
The Supreme Court of New South Wales granted the order – requested by the company – against Somboon Sukcharoenkraisri; Techatut Sukcharoenkraisri; and Bhuvasith Chaiarunrojh, people that each also go by Cambodian names.
According to a filing issued by Donaco on Tuesday to the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX), the three collectively own circa 148 million shares in Donaco, representing approximately 17.9 percent of its issued capital.
The same filing said the three defendants were the Thai vendors of a casino business called Star Vegas (pictured) in Poipet, Cambodia, a town near that country’s border with Thailand. According to previous Donaco filings, the Australia-listed firm acquired Star Vegas from Thai vendors in July 2015 for a total consideration of US$360 million.
The Australian court order by Justice Stevenson restrains the defendants or their representatives from either selling or disposing of the shares “until the final resolution and payment of any award of damages” in some Singapore arbitration proceedings initiated by Donaco. The firm is claiming US$120 million in damages.
Tuesday’s filing didn’t specify the nature of the dispute. But separate Donaco filings have outlined that the firm had a deal with the Thai vendors of Star Vegas for Donaco to oversee – on an operate-only basis starting in September 2016 – a neighbouring property called Star Paradise, controlled by the same Thai vendors.
In mid-September, Donaco stated it had issued a “cease and desist” letter to those on the Thai vendors’ side. Donaco claimed they were still operating the Star Paradise in competition to Donaco’s Star Vegas venue – and in defiance of a non-compete agreement – even after a deal for Donaco itself to run Star Paradise expired and was not renewed.
In late December, a Cambodian court issued an interim injunction to close Star Paradise. According to Donaco’s ASX filing relating to that order, the Cambodian court had given the defendants the option of deferring execution of the injunction, by depositing a guarantee of US$360 million.
The current Australian court proceedings commenced by Donaco are listed again before the Supreme Court in Sydney, New South Wales on Friday, “for a continuation of the interlocutory order,” said the Tuesday filing.
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Total number of casino properties currently in operation in Cambodia, according to the country's Ministry of Finance