LOAN RANGER

How mayor Tom Tate came to res­cue of em­bat­tled PR guru

The Gold Coast Bulletin - - FRONT PAGE - KATHLEEN SKENE kathleen.skene@news.com.au

TWO un­likely white knights have come to the aid of em­bat­tled PR guru Si­mone Holzapfel – Mayor Tom Tate and colour­ful Syd­ney busi­ness­man Jim Byrnes.

Le­gal ac­tion by Ms Holzapfel and her de­vel­oper hus­band Matt Robin­son is be­ing bankrolled by Mr Byrnes. The Mayor has also chipped in, putting de­posits on two prop­er­ties par­towned by Mr Robin­son and Mr Byrnes so the cou­ple could re­pay a debt to bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper Bob Ell.

Supreme Court doc­u­ments show the sale to Cr Tate failed to set­tle on sched­ule af­ter an­other lender re­fused to re­lease mort­gages on the two blocks.

TWO un­likely white knights have come to the aid of em­bat­tled PR guru Si­mone Holzapfel – Mayor Tom Tate and colour­ful Syd­ney busi­ness­man Jim Byrnes.

Le­gal ac­tion by Ms Holzapfel and her de­vel­oper hus­band Matt Robin­son is be­ing bankrolled by Mr Byrnes, the twice-bank­rupt former fi­nan­cial ad­viser of Alan Bond who a mag­is­trate once de­scribed as a “stand-over thug”.

The Mayor has also chipped in for his former me­dia ad­viser, putting de­posits on two prop­er­ties par­towned by Mr Robin­son and Mr Byrnes so the cou­ple could re­pay a debt to bil­lion­aire de­vel­oper Bob Ell.

Supreme Court doc­u­ments show the sale to Cr Tate failed to set­tle on sched­ule af­ter an­other lender re­fused to re­lease mort­gages on the two blocks, which have a to­tal area of 7.33ha.

Mr Byrnes is part owner of Bromelton Paddock, the com­pany di­rected by Mr Robin­son that owns the land Cr Tate tried to buy.

Ms Holzapfel and her hus­band are fight­ing mul­ti­ple court cases and fi­nan­cial dif­fi­cul­ties and a slew of their com­pa­nies, some of which are in ex­ter­nal ad­min­is­tra­tion, are the sub­ject of strike­off ac­tion or have been dereg­is­tered.

There is no sug­ges­tion Cr Tate is oth­er­wise associated with Mr Byrnes.

Doc­u­ments in a mort­gagee case against Bromelton Paddock in­di­cate the cou­ple and their com­pa­nies have $3.83 mil­lion in loan agree­ments re­lated to their con­joined prop­er­ties at Gle­nea­gle, near Beaudesert.

They show Var­sity Lakes lender Weldev Cap­i­tal re­fused to re­lease mort­gages it held on the two lots Cr Tate was buy­ing as Ms Holzapfel, Mr Robin­son and their com­pa­nies had not paid fees and in­ter­est the lender claimed were due.

Weldev agreed to loan $350,000 to Bromelton Paddock and $1.38 mil­lion to Ms Holzapfel’s com­pany Amalfi In­vest, and sub­se­quently registered mort­gages over their prop­er­ties.

The $350,000 loan funds were never drawn by Bromelton Paddock. How­ever, the lender ar­gued fees and in­ter­est were still due as they’d in­curred costs and missed op­por­tu­ni­ties while hold­ing cap­i­tal for the loan.

The bor­row­ers ar­gue the fees should not ap­ply and that the mort­gages are in­valid as the loan was never set­tled.

Emails ten­dered to the court claim the lender was count­ing on the sale of the two blocks to Cr Tate so pro­ceeds could be used to pay the fees owed to the lender and to re­lease an ex­ist­ing mort­gage to Bob Ell’s Leda.

How­ever, they show Weldev ex­ec­u­tive Adam Webb was con­cerned the net pro­ceeds of $477,500 would not cover the out­stand­ing amounts to Weldev and Leda as Bromelton had al­ready taken de­posits from the Mayor, who was also el­i­gi­ble for a dis­counted price on the land.

The Bromelton case is run­ning con­cur­rently with a case be­tween Weldev and Amalfi over the $1.38 mil­lion loan for the largest of the prop­er­ties, in which Ms Holzapfel has ar­gued an at­tempted re­pos­ses­sion of the 126ha block was un­law­ful.

The cou­ple have registered mort­gages on all parts of their Gle­nea­gle land, in­clud­ing two on the largest block, which was the venue for their wed­ding, at­tended by the Mayor, last year.

As well as the $1.38 mil­lion loan from Weldev against that block, Syd­ney firm Lehne In­vest­ments has a sec­ond mort­gage over it, re­lat­ing to a $1.05 mil­lion loan. Weldev and Lehne also have mort­gages over a neigh­bour­ing 4.6ha block where Bromelton Paddock has ap­plied to build a 50-lot hous­ing es­tate.

Mort­gage doc­u­ments show Lehne loaned Bromelton an­other $1.05 mil­lion to se­cure that mort­gage.

An­other lender, Per­ma­nent Mort­gages, has taken pos­ses­sion of a mil­lion-dol­lar Cur­rumbin apart­ment Mr Robin­son bought from former Gold Coast Ti­tans coach John Cartwright. The prop­erty was passed in at auc­tion this month and is on the mar­ket for $900,000.

Af­ter mul­ti­ple at­tempts by the Bul­letin to con­tact Cr Tate, he yes­ter­day said through coun­cil staff that he would not com­ment on mat­ters un­re­lated to the coun­cil.

Ms Holzapfel did not re­spond to the Bul­letin’s ques­tions yes­ter­day. How­ever, Mr Robin­son replied with seven ques­tions of his own and a tongue-in-cheek of­fer to sell the Bul­letin a block of land.

“Never know, Weldev might ‘lend’ you the money to do so,” he replied.

“Any­one can. Be nice to be able to ac­tu­ally set­tle, with­out hav­ing to pay to re­move mort­gage from ‘lender’ that I haven’t ever bor­rowed a cent from.”

Mr Robin­son rang shortly af­ter­wards at­tempt­ing to re­tract the state­ments and say­ing he had a sub­stan­tial case against Weldev that he ex­pected to win.

“You’re bark­ing up a wrong tree lady and it’s go­ing to be em­bar­rass­ing when we get the claim back,” he said.

Mr Webb de­clined to com­ment.

Mr Robin­son yes­ter­day told the Gold Coast Bul­letin Mr Byrnes was “a great mate and I’ve dealt with him for 30 years”.

Mr Byrnes was named a per­son of in­ter­est at an in­quest into the death of a young man charged over an ex­plo­sive 1997 ar­son at­tack on a home Mr Byrnes was in the process of buy­ing.

Max Gib­son was found in a drain, dead from a heroin over­dose ad­min­is­tered to his left arm.

He was left-handed. An in­quest found there was in­suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to charge any­one over the death of Gib­son, de­spite the coroner say­ing the weight of ev­i­dence sup­ported Gib­son and an­other man “un­der­tak­ing the ar­son of the Tara St prop­erty on be­half of Jim Byrnes”.

Byrnes was jailed in the 1980s for heroin sup­ply and ma­li­cious wound­ing, and has pre­vi­ously been con­victed of mul­ti­ple driv­ing of­fences.

Mr Byrnes said Ms Holzapfel had phoned him for help last year, af­ter Mr Robin­son ex­pe­ri­enced health is­sues.

He said the pair had been let down by a con­trac­tor on their Huon­brook de­vel­op­ment and by an­other lender he said had taken ad­van­tage of them.

“He’s just a guy who’s got sick, he had too many balls in the air and a cou­ple of the balls dropped,” Mr Byrnes said, af­fec­tion­ately de­scrib­ing Mr Robin­son as “an ab­so­lute rat­bag and a scoundrel, but I say that in a good way”.

“He’s a boy from the bush and a lar­rikin, but he’s ac­tu­ally quite bril­liant when it comes to prop­erty.”

BE NICE TO BE ABLE TO AC­TU­ALLY SET­TLE, WITH­OUT HAV­ING TO PAY TO RE­MOVE MORT­GAGE FROM ‘LENDER’ THAT I HAVEN’T EVER BOR­ROWED A CENT FROM. MATT ROBIN­SON

Mr Byrnes said he’d bought into Bromelton Paddock to fund the de­vel­op­ment ap­pli­ca­tion for the 50-lot es­tate, which he said would go ahead de­spite Scenic Rim Coun­cil flag­ging a num­ber of is­sues with the ap­pli­ca­tion.

Ms Holzapfel’s PR and po­lit­i­cal lob­by­ing firm Shac Com­mu­ni­ca­tions has also strug­gled with debt, with its staff gone, its Face­book page deleted and its of­fice ap­par­ently de­serted.

She has de­nied the com­pany is fail­ing.

Their de­vel­op­ment com­pany Robin­son Prospect, which was man­ag­ing a 110-lot de­vel­op­ment at Huon­brook, was dereg­is­tered ear­lier this month, while an­other of their com­pa­nies, Horse­shoe Prop­er­ties, which owns the Huon­brook land, is in ex­ter­nal ad­min­is­tra­tion over un­paid debts.

Shac Com­mu­ni­ca­tions and its owner have a con­tentious his­tory, with Ms Holzapfel called as a wit­ness at a Crime and Cor­rup­tion Com­mis­sion

hear­ing last year for her in­volve­ment in the 2016 Gold Coast City Coun­cil elec­tions.

How­ever, there is no sug­ges­tion that Ms Holzapfel en­gaged in any crim­i­nal or cor­rupt con­duct and no fur­ther ac­tion was taken against her.

Mr Byrnes said he was fund­ing the lit­i­ga­tion against Weldev on be­half of the cou­ple and that he ex­pected to win the case and pur­sue ex­ten­sive dam­ages.

“I’m the one fund­ing this lit­i­ga­tion, I don’t care what it will cost, it will be a field day as far as I’m con­cerned.

“At the end of the day, it will be a court de­ci­sion and the courts will de­cide where the law stands.”

Si­mone Holzapfel and Matt Robin­son

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