Fouad al-Zayat was a Syrian gambler, businessman and investor who died in Lebanon in 2018 at the age of 77. Casino circles called him the “Fat Man.” One of the most secretive and inexhaustive gamblers in Mayfair in London, this billionaire frequently visited Aspinalls Club. In a single visit, he gambled thousands of pounds, which increased to more than a million pounds by the turn of the century.
Extravagant Gambling Lifestyle
A man who lived by the sword, Al-Zayat. He founded various companies, including Mortimer Offshore Services. He was also asked to help with the purchase of a jet for the Iranian President by the Islamic Republic of Iran. By bribing officials within his own government with millions in free gambling chips, Al-Zayat was able to obtain a permit allowing him to sell plane parts to Iran in spite of US trade sanctions. The permit was never granted, however.
He was known for his extravagant gambling style, and he was considered a whale in the casino industry. Between 1994-2006, al Zayat wagered around £91 million at Aspinalls and lost £23 million. Aspinalls also sued him for $2 million plus costs for gambling debts he incurred from Blackjack losses. His argument was that he had been wrongfully credit granted under the Gaming Act, so he appealed and won his case.
Convicted of Fraud in Greece
Al-Zayat was tried in absentia for bribery in Greece in 2015 and sentenced to life in prison. Despite this, he never actually served this sentence because the Greece authorities could not find him. Further to this, he was also wanted for fraud in Cyprus at the time of his death.
The legacy Fouad al-Zayat left was that of a giant, and he blazed a trail for others to follow, despite his fraud convictions in Greece.