Ruling Re-defines Dishonesty


Last weeks post looked at the importance of establishing the Points to Prove (P2P) and we introduced dishonesty as one of the P2P in the definition of theft.

Dishonesty in this context is taken to mean to prove someone’s actions were dishonest; you first had to show that their action would be deemed dishonest by the standard of the ordinary person. Then, you had to show that they also understood that their actions were dishonest.


Let us look at the Case of Phil Ivey whose outcome impacted on the above definition.

To give an overview of the story we first need to visit a colleague of Ivey, Cheung Yin Sun. Cheung is 40 years old, was brought up in China and has a high stakes gambling habit funded by her rich businessman father. Ten years ago, Cheung and a few friends visited MGM Casino in Las Vegas where her father had deposited $500,000 for her to use. During her stay a friend lost all of her money and asked if she could borrow $100,000. MGM gave her a loan that was underwritten by the supposedly wealthy Cheung. Unfortunately the loan was not repaid and MGM held Cheung liable. When she returned to the USA, 18 months later, Cheung was promptly arrested and imprisoned for 4 weeks. She took this “quite badly” and vowed revenge by taking as much money from MGM Casinos worldwide as she possibly could.


How did she do it? Cheung realised that in most Casinos the cards have a pattern printed on the reverse e.g. small diamonds. As the cards are manufactured and cut on a machine the pattern is often not symmetrical with, say, the pattern on the left only half a diamond and the pattern on the right was a full diamond; this was the key to her quest! Using this she was able to identify different cards which she used to her advantage and she toured the Casinos of the East making quite a bundle, eventually meeting up with Ivey.


In the gambling world, someone who gambles upwards of £500,000 per visit is known as a High Roller and the casino goes out of its way to keep these customers betting; free drinks, food and suites are the norm.  Ivey was no stranger to betting £2m, £3m or even £5m per visit and he is one of only 1500 people worldwide who regularly bet in these amounts. Cheung explained her findings to Ivey and so the plan developed.


In 2012 Ivey and Cheung enter an exclusive London Casino called Crockfords.  Ivey was immediately recognised and the Casino started to grant his wishes for his visit including a private room to play Baccarat ‘Macau Style’. Baccarat is a simple card game which has no skill involved, it is a card equivalent of a toss of a coin with the chances of winning 50:50 and Macau style means the players do not touch the cards so they cannot be then judged as manipulating the cards.




During the first visit, Ivey lost a large amount of money then left, informing the casino he would return the next day. Both Cheung and Ivey returned the next day and they started to win ‘big time!’ Overall they had amassed winnings of £7.7 million but the casino were alerted and had started to monitor the situation via CCTV.  Nothing untoward was discovered but the Casino intervened and told Ivey they were going to change the pack they were playing with. Ivey and Cheung left leaving security to investigate their secret.


In addition to the circumstances above the investigation revealed Cheung had asked for a Mandarin speaker to deal the cards and also she had made the unusual request that if they won a hand then the high stakes cards be turned around at 180 degrees.  Also, they had requested that instead of changing packs regularly they would use the same pack over the two days.


So was this dishonest in this case? What had they done that was actually dishonest? Was it possible to prove the two P2P of dishonesty?


Whether you investigate disciplinaries, misconduct or as in this case fraud, whether you are an HR Professional, an investigator or a line manager if you need to investigate you will need to interview…………..we can give you the skills.


We’ll conclude the investigation next week.