£27 Million Gambler Sues London’s Park Lane Club for £244K in Unpaid VIP Incentives

Posted on: November 10, 2020, 07:34h. 

Last updated on: November 11, 2020, 04:00h.

A high-rolling gambler who staked £27 million ($35 million) on the roulette tables of an exclusive London private members casino before turning a “small” profit is suing the casino for cashback.

Park Lane Club
London’s high-end Park Lane Club lost its license last week, largely because of question marks around its ownership. (Image: SBC)

In a lawsuit filed in London’s High Court, Croatian Juste Puharic claims he was promised a 0.9 percent VIP incentive bonus by the Park Lane Club in the city’s swanky Mayfair district.

After playing for five days at the club in May 2015, Puharic quit £1.5 million ($2 million) to the good. But the £243,518 ($323k) he alleges he was promised – a 0.9 percent commission on stakes of £27,057,621 – did not materialize.

In his lawsuit, Puharic claims he would not have risked such a large sum had he not expected to receive the cashback percentage. He says he is “contractually entitled” to the cash.

But the casino denies it formally offered the incentive to Puharic, and says it was “not particularly interested” in whether he played there or not.

Who Really Owns the Park Lane Club?

The lawsuit caps a bad few days for the Park Lane Club and its owner, Silverbond Enterprises Ltd., which last Wednesday had its gaming license revoked by the UK Gambling Commission.

The regulator said it revoked the license because of a “change of corporate control.”

It’s believed Silverbond is — or was — owned by Vasilijis Melniks, who has been accused of embezzling and laundering €54 million ($64 million USD) from a Ukrainian state-owned energy company.

According to public records, Latvian national Melniks resigned as a director of Silverbond in October 2018. That came soon after a Ukrainian Court froze the businessman’s assets in the country, which triggered a review of the company’s casino license by the UKGC.

His replacement on the Silverbond board was Italian banker Ricardo Tattoni. But the UKGC in its ruling suggested there was still a question mark over the ownership of the casino.

The regulator said it could not be satisfied as to the “source of funds used to acquire and support the license at the time of the change of corporate control, or to whom future profits of the licensee would be paid.”

In 2018, the UKGC fined the Park Lane Club £1.8 million ($2.4 million) for anti-money laundering (AML) failures .

Mystery Men

If Melniks is something of an international man of mystery, so is the casino’s current antagonist, Puharic.

News articles in his native Latvia have described him as a “famous gambler” who earned “very serious money” playing roulette before investing it in business and real estate.

He is currently embroiled in a separate legal spat over the ownership of £5 million-worth ($6.6 million) of classic Rolls Royces and Mercedes Benzes.

Puharic says they are his and claims he was paying £5,000 ($6.6k) per month to keep them in the parking lot of the Grosvenor House Hotel, also in Park Lane, Mayfair, before they were unaccountably spirited away by hotel staff.