Protest over $5m fleec­ing

The Daily Telegraph (Sydney) - - News - MI­RANDA DEVINE

FI­JIAN and Filipino mi­grants in Western Syd­ney, who were fleeced for $5 mil­lion by a now­bankrupt prop­erty de­vel­op­ment com­pany, will picket Black­town Coun­cil today to call for the res­ig­na­tion of La­bor coun­cil­lor Monin­der Singh (pic­tured), a for­mer di­rec­tor of the de­funct New Ridge prop­erty group.

Singh, 53, of Quak­ers Hill, was elected to Black­town Coun­cil in Septem­ber, eight days af­ter the NSW Supreme Court dis­missed his ap­peal against a judg­ment or­der­ing him and fel­low for­mer di­rec­tors to pay $358,330.68 to two vic­tims of the failed prop­erty scheme Ig­na­cio and Leti­cia De Cas­tro, plus le­gal costs.

The cou­ple suc­cess­fully sued Singh and five other di­rec­tors of New Ridge in the District Court last year, af­ter los­ing their life’s sav­ings on a get-rich-quick scheme in which they lent New Ridge $300,000 to de­velop units in Cairns and were sup­posed to re­ceive 20 per cent in­ter­est.

Fi­jian In­dian cou­ple Ku­mar and Rosie have not stopped work­ing since they came to Aus­tralia 30 years ago.

Ku­mar, 57, an IT spe­cial­ist, worked nights at Coles stack­ing shelves, while Rosie, 55, worked at Coles by day and as an agency nurse by night.

The hard work paid off in 2006 when Ku­mar hand-built their dream home in Mer­ry­lands. A com­fort­able re­tire­ment beck­oned. But then they met Black­town La­bor Coun­cil­lor Monin­der Singh and real es­tate agents Kul­want Singh and Mand­hir Singh Sandha, the BMW-driv­ing di­rec­tors of the now bank­rupt New Ridge prop­erty group.

They were of­fered a deal to lend the com­pany $200,000 in re­turn for 20 per cent in­ter­est.

The trust­ing cou­ple and their daugh­ter were flown to Cairns to in­spect prop­erty, put up at The Lakes re­sort and spa, and wined and dined with other “in­vestors”.

“They sweet-talked us,” says Ku­mar. “Af­ter they sold my prop­erty we be­came friends with them.”

The cou­ple took out an in­vest­ment loan of $200,000 and gave it to New Ridge. Be­fore long, the in­ter­est pay­ments “stopped sud­denly”.

Like Filipino cou­ple Ig­na­cio and Leti­tia DeCas­tro, they had lost their life’s sav­ings in the failed scheme.

Ku­mar and Rosie still work two jobs to pay off the bank loan. They both now take heart med­i­ca­tion be­cause of the stress.

But they say a “ray of hope” came last year when the DeCas­tros suc­cess­fully sued Monin­der and other di­rec­tors of New Ridge, who were or­dered by the District Court to pay them a to­tal of $358,330.68 plus costs.

Judge Robert Mont­gomery said he was “con­cerned as to truth­ful­ness and re­li­a­bil­ity of the ev­i­dence given by … Monin­der”.

The judge said that, be­tween 2004 and 2006, Monin­der also was di­rec­tor of an­other com­pany, Shah MS Prop­erty Group, which owed 31 pri­vate loans to­talling $4,695,734.00.

Shah there­after be­came Aus­tralian Academy of Man­age­ment and Sci­ence Pty Lim­ited (AAMS), op­er­at­ing at Quak­ers Hill.

“Its con­trol­ling di­rec­tor at all rel­e­vant times and to the present was and is Monin­der.”

Monin­der lists his pro­fes­sion on LinkedIn as CEO of AAMS.

Taxi driver Baljin­der Singh, who is or­gan­is­ing a protest for New Ridge vic­tims today out­side Black­town Coun­cil, says it breaks his heart to see Monin­der in cer­e­mo­nial red turban, pre­sent­ing cit­i­zen­ship cer­tifi­cates.

A proud Sikh, Baljin­der says he wishes the La­bor Party would help those who have lost money from Monin­der’s failed schemes.

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