This is one Las Vegas hangover that simply won't go away.
A Winnipeg woman who lost $200,000 gambling during a disastrous 2008 trip to Sin City now stands to lose even more -- her Osborne Village condo has been seized by authorities and is about to be sold to cover her outstanding debts.
'I sometimes have difficulty in understanding a person who speaks English'
The Free Press has reviewed court documents of the bizarre, five-year legal ordeal against Yuan Li, who is also known as Li Yuan.
Much of the delay has been caused by the fact Li has seemingly vanished for long periods of time, preventing justice officials from formally serving her with legal briefs and motions. As a result, many of the court proceedings have been done in her absence.
The case involves the Wynn hotel and resort in Las Vegas, which a filed civil motion against Li shortly after she visited their lavish casino in April 2008 and made quite the impression. Li admits she deposited $100,000 into a line of credit for the purpose of gambling during her stay. And the "high roller" concedes her losses quickly mounted, topping out at $200,000.
Li was extended the extra $100,000 by the Wynn, at an 18 per cent interest rate. According to the hotel, she only paid $10,000 back before returning to Canada. That triggered legal proceedings, which continue to this day.
A judgment was obtained by Wynn against Li in 2010 for the $90,000 balance. As of this week, that number has grown to more than $133,000 once interest is calculated.
A judge previously ordered Li's bank account be seized and emptied, but that only netted about $2,000. The balance remains outstanding.
All of this occurred without Li present in court, as more than a dozen attempts to track her down -- through her residence in Winnipeg and another property in British Columbia -- were unsuccessful. Li briefly resurfaced in 2012, filing a motion in which she sought to appeal the court order. In an affidavit, she claimed there had been a major misunderstanding with the Wynn.
Li argued she was never told about the 18 per cent rate of interest, and the casino promised her a "10 per cent" discount on all gambling losses during that trip, which amounts to a $20,000 reduction. She also claims they offered to pay $13,000 in travel expenses. The total amount she claims she owes is only about $55,000.
"I accepted their offer and gambled on that basis," she claimed. Li said she came to Canada in 1997 from China and still spends much of her time in Shanghai, where she operates a restaurant.
"I sometimes have difficulty in understanding a person who speaks English," her affidavit stated as a possible explanation for the financial mix-up.
But Li lost her appeal after a judge recently ruled her explanation to be bogus, saying she appears to be doing everything possible to avoid her responsibilities and is guilty of "wilful delay."
Now Li appears to have gone back into hiding, as authorities have been unable to serve notice her Roslyn Road condo, valued at close to $150,000, has been forfeited and is in the hands of the bank. It will soon go to market, and the net proceeds will be used to cover her losses.