Zetta Jet set bat­tle over $4.5m lux­ury yacht

The Weekend Australian - - BUSINESS - BEN BUT­LER

An Aus­tralian le­gal stoush over a $4.5m lux­ury yacht is at the cen­tre of a world­wide chase for as­sets con­nected to Gold Coast busi­ness­man Ge­of­frey Cas­sidy, who has been ac­cused of de­fraud­ing tens of mil­lions from Sin­ga­porean pri­vate jet hire com­pany Zetta Jet to fund his lav­ish life­style.

Amer­i­can in­vestors in Zetta Jet, where Mr Cas­sidy was man­ag­ing di­rec­tor, ac­cuse the Aus­tralian of fraud and rack­e­teer­ing in the runup to the group’s col­lapse in Septem­ber by us­ing up to $US30m in stolen com­pany money to throw ex­trav­a­gant par­ties and buy two yachts, houses in Europe and lux- ury cars. One of the yachts, a topof-the-line Mar­itimo 70 named Dragon Pearl that is out­fit­ted with fea­tures in­clud­ing satel­lite com­mu­ni­ca­tions equip­ment de­signed to work any­where in the world, is un­der ar­rest on the Gold Coast by or­der of the Fed­eral Court.

The court seized the boat in Oc­to­ber on the ap­pli­ca­tion of Zetta Jet’s US trustee in bank­ruptcy, Jonathan D. King.

But this week, Mr King suf­fered a le­gal set­back in a Mel­bourne court­room at the hands of coun­sel for Du Yan, a mys­te­ri­ous Hong Kong-based woman who claims own­er­ship of the yacht thanks to an opaque trans­ac­tion in­volv­ing tax haven the Mar­shall Is­lands.

The Fed­eral Court or­dered Zetta Jet and Mr King to stump up $145,000 to cover some of Du Yan’s costs in the event she wins own­er­ship of Dragon Pearl at trial, due in March.

This is on top of $85,000 Zetta Jet has so far had to shell out to keep the 21.5m yacht at its moor­ing.

The Fed­eral Court action is one of four un­der way around the world as a re­sult of the fail­ure of the com­pany, which char­tered out jets com­plete with ev­ery­thing from fine wines on the ta­ble to Egyp­tian cot­ton on the beds and boasted its cus­tomers in­cluded Hol­ly­wood roy­alty and high-rolling gam­blers.

In the US, there are bank­ruptcy pro­ceed­ings re­lat­ing to the com­pany and its US sub­sidiary, plus a fraud action brought by in­vestors James Sea­grim and Matthew Wal­ter against Mr Cas­sidy.

Mean­while, in Sin­ga­pore, the city state’s High Court has or­dered the trustee in bank­ruptcy to halt the US pro­ceed­ings — an or­der that ap­pears to have been ig­nored. In­stead, the trustee has ap­plied to the Sin­ga­porean court for it to recog­nise the US in­sol­vency.

Mr Cas­sidy agrees that he used Zetta’s money to buy Dragon Pearl, but has de­nied do­ing any­thing wrong and says any amounts Zetta Jet claims he owes it should be set off against sums the com- pany owes to him. In their fraud case, Mr Sea­grim and Mr Wal­ter claim Mr Cas­sidy “en­riched him­self” without their knowl­edge or con­sent by us­ing $4.5m of Zetta Jet’s money to buy Dragon Pearl and an­other 3.9m to buy a 37m Couach yacht, Ny­ota.

This is on top of “at least three lux­ury cars in Sin­ga­pore val­ued con­ser­va­tively at be­tween $2m and $3m”, the in­vestors claim.

They ac­cuse Mr Cas­sidy of splashing hun­dreds of thou­sands of dol­lars of com­pany money on “ex­trav­a­gant gath­er­ings” in Monaco, Los An­ge­les and Ma­cau and tak­ing dozens of il­licit free trips on the com­pany’s air­craft with his friends.

The in­vestors also ac­cuse Mr Cas­sidy of ac­cept­ing kick­backs of $2m each on the pur­chase of at least seven Bom­bardier jets from a per­son at the man­u­fac­turer’s Sin­ga­porean dis­trib­u­tor, Jetcraft.

The reg­is­tered owner of the Dragon Pearl is Mar­shall Is­lands com­pany Dragon Pearl Limited (DPL), which was in turn owned by Mr Cas­sidy when he took de­liv­ery of the yacht in De­cem­ber 2016.

How­ever, in her de­fence, filed with the court, Du Yan claims all the shares in DPL were trans­ferred to her on Septem­ber 28, about six weeks af­ter Mr Cas­sidy was sus­pended from his job at Zetta Jet.

Du Yan al­leges that at the time of the trans­ac­tion, Mr Cas­sidy was “per­son­ally in­debted” to a com­pany called New Tar­get In­vest­ments, but does not say how much he owed.

“In or­der to dis­charge that debt, ei­ther in full or in part, Cas­sidy agreed to trans­fer the shares in DPL to New Tar­get or its nomi- nee,” she claims. “New Tar­get nom­i­nated Du Yan to re­ceive the shares in DPL from Cas­sidy.”

She says Zetta Jet and Mr King have no claim to the yacht be­cause she bought it without know­ing any­thing about Mr Cas­sidy’s use of com­pany funds to pur­chase it.

How­ever, she also claims that the $4.5m Mr Cas­sidy paid for the yacht should be set off against $3.5m al­legedly owed to him and a Sin­ga­porean com­pany he owned, Asia Avi­a­tion Com­pany.

On Wed­nes­day, coun­sel for Mr King, An­ton Trichardt, told the court “there was no loan or any­thing like that” and said Du Yan’s claim to own the yacht was “spu­ri­ous”. How­ever, coun­sel for DPL and Du Yan, An­gus Ste­wart SC, said his client “was in ef­fect Dragon Pearl” and the right­ful pos­ses­sor of the boat.

Zetta Jet’s US trustee has seized the Dragon Pearl

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