Archive for December 2014

Clinch Long Letherbarrow ditch City Tatts

For most of it’s history City Tattersalls Club was the sort of place you wanted to be associated with.

But not any more.

Mirvac had a long hard look at City Tatts, ten months in fact, and walked away. National Australia Bank had inside knowledge of what was happening at City Tatts and walked away last year (after 40 years as the Club’s banker).

Now Clinch Long Letherbarrow have disassociated themselves from City Tatts (or should that be discontinued).

Who are Clinch Long Letherbarrow?

Well, they are a firm of solicitors that employs Patrick Campion. And, on their website, they used to promote that Campion was chairman of City Tatts. Which is understandable, because in the past being chairman of the club meant a certain amount of prestige and goodwill, and could bring in some business.

But not any more – they have removed any reference to City Tatts in his biography on their site!

Let’s face it, he must be an extreme embarrassment to them. Apart from his lies, broken promises and spiteful outbursts a lot of his actions and statements are really stupid. Even on legal matters he has made countless stupid statements. At one City Tatts meeting he said he would only answer questions if required to do so by the Registered Clubs Act. Even ordinary members with no legal knowledge could tell him that he was required by the City Tattersalls Act to answer the questions. In fact even if the Registered Clubs Act never existed he would still be required to answer questions under the City Tattersalls Club Act. Another example was his promise that the Club would sell any apartments as leasehold only, with the Club retaining ownership. Within days every solicitor who looked at this said it was nonsense – which it proved to be.

Now that Clinch Long Letherbarrow have ditched City Tatts, how long before they ditch Patrick Campion?

 

Save City Tatts Committee

 

Health Services Union pair ordered to repay millions

The former mistress of disgraced Health Services Union boss Michael Williamson has been ordered to pay back millions in misappropriated funds.

The NSW Supreme Court has ordered Cheryl Rose McMillan, the union’s former procurement officer, and her close friend Alf Downing to repay more than $8 million to the HSU.

The court heard McMillan and Williamson devised a plan in early 2005 where Downing’s company Access Focus would invoice the union for supplies at an inflated rate. Under the trio’s agreement, Downing kept 50 per cent of the inflated amount while the other half was paid to McMillan on the basis that she shared it with Williamson.

The court ordered McMillan to repay the union $3.7 million, including interest and legal costs. Downing was ordered to pay $4.3 million, including interest and costs.

HSU secretary Gerard Mayer said the union will continue with other forms of recovery action. The union had also tried to recoup an extra $611,000 from McMillan which it claimed was deposited in a bank account between 2005 and 2011. “We have pursued these people for the past two years and this case shows the extent of the funds that were taken from HSU members” he said.

In October last year Williamson pleaded guilty to defrauding the union of about $1 million as well as enlisting family and friends to hinder the police investigation into his activities. He was sentenced to seven and a half years in jail, but he will be eligible for parole after serving five.

 

Save City Tatts Committee

Bernard Madoff’s secretary gets 6 years in prison

Bernard Madoff’s secretary, Annette Bongiorno, was sentenced to 6 years in prison by a U.S. District Court judge last week.

The judge called Bongiorno ” a pampered, compliant and grossly overcompensated clerical worker who supervised other clerical workers with a ferocious enthusiasm”.

Prosecutors said Bongiorno was “at the very heart of the fraud” for decades.

Bongiorno was one of five Madoff employees convicted earlier this year after a six-month trial. Madoff’s director of operations was sentenced to 10 years in prison and a computer programmer to 2 1/2 years in prison. Two others await sentencing.

Prosecutors said Madoff could not have carried out the fraud without them.

 

 

Save City Tatts Committee

Mirvac’s City Tatts Sticking Points: No. 6 – The Johny Bineham Case

The more Mirvac knew about City Tatts the more they worried about the type of people they were dealing with. The Johny Bineham case was one more warning about dealing with City Tatts.

Johny Bineham was suspended from City Tattersalls Club one Thursday afternoon – to prevent him speaking at a “Members Briefing” about the property development held that evening. He was suspended, over the phone, by Jan Ellks (Guilfoyle’s $140,000 secretaty) without a hearing.

Mirvac were not responsible for this. But it was an blatant attempt to silence a member who had started to ask difficult questions about the property development – a high profile property development to be built by Mirvac.

Mirvac simply couldn’t predict what might result from this. The potential for adverse publicity was very real. This is a man who fought for his country. He even fought in the Korean War!! (Yes, the Korean war that ended in 1953) Now, when he should be enjoying his retirement, he’s suspended from his own club for speaking out against Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s insane property plan. If the media, or public opinion, picked up on this and got behind him who knows where it might lead. Apart from that, he had clear grounds to challenge his illegal suspension in the Supreme Court, which was exactly the kind of exposure Mirvac didn’t want.

He remains suspended today, despite never being brought before the Committee – as required by the rules. There have been other cases where members banned from City Tatts for physical assaults were allowed back within 6 months. But of course Bineham’s crime is far more serious to Tweedledum and Tweedledee – he helped derail their pet project and expose it for the fraud it was.

 

Save City Tatts Committee

 

 

Mirvac’s City Tatts Sticking Points: No. 5 – Building on the City Tatts Site

Mirvac are very experienced builders with a long track record of building all types of projects.

But even for them, City Tattersalls Club was shaping up as a difficult build.

There are a lot of problems when you come to build on the City Tatts site.

First and foremost is the location itself. The City Tatts building is situated on a narrow one-way street, just a few metres from a junction where traffic can only turn left. This causes numerous access problems. Every time a truck, van, crane or anything would enter or leave the site it was going to be a problem. Just compare City Tatts to the new ANZ building down the street. ANZ had a site that went from Pitt Street right through to Castlereagh Street which was a huge advantage to them during the build. The City Tatts location also means no parking spaces for any apartments. As an added complication we even heard that the foundations required for the proposed tower would be getting close to the Martin Place train tunnel.

The city centre location also means ongoing issues with the owners of adjoining properties. These owners have no reason to help City Tatts, especially if they are also trying to build apartments on their own sites.

Building at City Tatts also means dealing with heritage issues. There are heritage restrictions on the facade and various parts of the Club such as the Lower Bar. These are not a huge problem but they are an added complication – which other sites don’t have.

The design itself just added to the complexity. Guilfoyle’s desire for a hotel significantly increased the issues Mirvac had to consider.

Finally, building on this site meant dealing with a registered club, which meant that regardless of how much work Mirvac put into it members could still reject it. Even a member vote in favour was no guarantee that it would proceed smoothly. The longer they were involved with City Tatts the more Mirvac worried that some kind of court challenge could derail the project, or at the very least delay it.

 

Save City Tatts Committee

 

Mirvac’s City Tatts Sticking Points: No. 4 – The Secret $250,000 payment

The secret $250,000 was just one more issue lurking in the background – another reminder to Mirvac that everything about City Tattersalls Club was shonky, and dealing with them could only lead to disaster.

It also proves that Patrick Campion is a shameless liar.

Mirvac were anointed on 10 December 2013, at “Members Briefing” No. 3. From then until “Members Briefing” No. 10 (that’s 8 meetings), the $250,000 received from Mirvac was never mentioned – despite a constant barrage of propaganda (with the collusion of that fraud James Kennedy) about how members were kept fully informed at all times.

At “Members Briefing” No. 11, on 27 October 2014, Campion casually mentioned that City Tatts would keep the $250,000 already received from Mirvac. After internet blogs highlighted that this payment had been kept secret from members, and could be an illegal bribe, Campion added a sentence in the Club magazine to what he had said at the meeting: “This exclusivity payment would have been required of any preferred developer, not just Mirvac”.

We know this $250,000 was never meant to be revealed to members, and never would have been revealed if Mirvac had gone ahead with the development. We are certain of this because:

  • Based on his usual propaganda, Campion would have trumpeted the $250,000 from the start as proof of how much Mirvac wanted the City Tatts deal.
  • On normal form, Campion would also have jumped at the chance to claim that the Club’s expenses from the development were very low – because they were reduced by the $250,000.

But it was kept secret and the question is why.

We can’t think of a reason why Mirvac would want to keep it a secret. $250,000 is a drop in the ocean to them so they would not care either way – unless it was an illegal bribe or in some way dishonest.

That leaves Guilfoyle and Campion. The most likely motivation for them keeping it secret was to use it in some way to make the Club’s finances appear better than they really were.

But, for whatever reason, it was concealed from members and Mirvac knew it.

And it was one more sign to them that City Tatts was trouble – more trouble than it was worth.

 

Save City Tatts Committee

 

Mirvac’s City Tatts Sticking Points: No. 3 – The Guilfoyle Wailing Wall

In our series on why Mirvac walked away from City Tatts we now come to the Wailing Wall.

This was Tony Guilfoyle’s creation in every way so it’s no surprise to find that it was stupid and dishonest.

For those of you who have not heard of it (which is understandable because members were kept in the dark) the Wailing Wall came about due to Guilfoyle’s plan to divide the existing City Tatts building in two. One part (194-200 Pitt Street) would be given to Mirvac to build apartments and the other (202-204 Pitt Street) would be used as the club premises during construction.

Everything about this was stupid and dishonest.

The actual reason for this plan was to con members into voting for the property development. Tweedledum and Tweedledee knew that if they said the club would be closed for 3 or 4 years during construction, members would probably vote against it. So it was essential to tell members that the club would remain open. This was pure propaganda – not a practical plan that was ever likely to work.

It was never going to happen. Even if they tried it, once City Tatts became a building site most of it’s members (and visitors) would dwindle away. Let’s face it, membership and revenue have dropped continually for 10 years – and that’s when the club had everything in it’s favour. You can guess what would happen when it became a building site. Besides, builders said it was idiotic, even dangerous, to try and keep part of the club open while a skyscraper was being constructed on the rest of it. So one way or another the club was always likely to close before construction finished. This, of course, would be announced (after they got members approval) as a reluctant measure outside their control – just like Tweedledee’s broken promise that the apartments would be sold as leasehold with City Tatts always retaining ownership.

But there was an even bigger problem. Mirvac advised Tweedledum and Tweedledee that splitting the club required building a massive wall to divide the two sections. Make no mistake about what this entailed. It was going to be 7 storeys high from the ground floor to the top of the Club’s floors. And it was going to be very expensive, we are talking millions here – with City Tatts footing the bill. (Well, it was Guilfoyle’s idea to keep part of the club open so Mirvac were not going to pay for it.) In fact, this “Wailing Wall” was a major building project in and of itself. And the space around it needed for construction would have taken up a lot of the small part of the club that was to remain open.

In short, everything about the Guilfoyle Wailing Wall told Mirvac to walk away.

 

Save City Tatts Committee