A Kiwi property investor who claims he has been duped out of more than $1million has used a private investigator to freeze Swiss bank accounts of alleged international loan scammer Western Gulf Advisory.
WGA, owned by Indian-born Ahsan Ali Syed, is the same company used by Wellington property developer Terry Serepisos for a yet-to-be-received US$100m (NZ$114m) loan to restructure his Century City group of companies.
McNabb Group Properties – which paid NZ$1.1m in loan fees to WGA for a US$50m loan that never eventuated – has filed criminal complaints against WGA in Switzerland and Bahrain.
The moves follow a series of events that began last August when MGP sought funding for an Auckland hotel and for the Waihi Gold Discovery Tourism Centre, and was approached by WGA's New Zealand middleman, Daniel Hunt. MGP followed due diligence for several months before advancing $1.1m to WGA to cover loan fees.
But alarm bells started to chime in mid-March when the loan did not eventuate on the agreed date and WGA breached the agreement by not returning the fees when requested.
The company hired private investigator Mark van Leewarden, who travelled to Dubai and Switzerland with enough evidence to persuade Swiss banking authorities to freeze WGA accounts. The Bahraini bank accounts of WGA were frozen last month by Australian investors who claimed Mr Ali had scammed them for A$100m.
MGP boss Gary McNabb said WGA had threatened to sue the New Zealand company for US$6m.
"They have no grounds at all in law to sue us. Our contract with them – which is under Swiss jurisdiction – says that if they don't perform, they have to return all our funds to us immediately."
The reports that WGA was nothing more than a front for elaborate scam have been circulating for months. That didn't stop Mr Serepisos. To the best of our knowledge his cheque from WGA hasn't arrived in the mail yet, and now it looks as though it won't.
Doubtless this revelation will lead to further action in moves to liquidate some of Serepisos' companies. We only hope that funding is in place for the Wellington Phoenix, whose season is not too far away.