Diamonds, Real Estate, Chabad and … Fertilizer?
It would appear that the more we dig the more we find linked to Chabad, diamonds and real estate. Fertilizer is a new one.
There’s Jeremy Reichberg who is from a prominent Chabad family very well known amongst the Chabad Jewish community. Jeremy Reichberg led us to Lev Leviev’s name in connection not only with Chabad, but with Jona Rechnitz and Africa Israel, linked together by investments in real estate and diamonds. Yesterday night we were introduced to Diamond Joe Gutnick, another diamond magnate, also linked to Chabad (see article below), diamonds and real estate. Then we have Murray Huberfeld and Platinum Partners and their link to significant donations to Chabad, investments in mining and diamonds and real estate.
We are not sure where it begins and where it ends, though we had not anticipated fertilizer to be a part of the equation. But if there is one certainty in all of this, it is that Diamond Joe Gutnick is no more bankrupt than Platinum Partners is solvent.
Diamond’ Joe Gutnick dealing until the very end
Mr Gutnick and his wife, Stera, issued the $2.7 million mortgage over a sprawling property on Inkerman Street in St Kilda East, which is known as Chabad House of Caulfield.
Joe Gutnick, whose debts stand at $275 million, issued a $2.7 million loan just 16 days before going bust. Photo: Peter Rae
The one-year loan was issued through the family company Chabad Properties and carries an interest rate of between 12 per cent and 17 per cent. The loan required six months interest to be paid in advance, according to the land title.
BusinessDay can also reveal Mr Gutnick has interests in US, Singaporean and Australian companies worth more than $12 million. His share in overseas assets include a gem explorer in America, an Australian diamond miner with offices in Singapore plus an investment holding company in Singapore that in turn owns land in Washington State in the US.
The revelations come as Mr Gutnick’s bankruptcy trustee investigates a complex web of family trusts, related party transactions and overseas shareholdings, which all form one of the biggest bankruptcies in Australian history.
Mr Gutnick’s debts stand at a staggering $275 million, of which more than $150 million is allegedly owed to related parties, including his wife, family trusts and companies in which he is a shareholder.
According to Mr Gutnick’s signed statement of affairs, his only declared asset is $16,087 in savings, and his shareholdings are worthless.
It will be up to Mr Gutnick’s trustees in bankruptcy to determine whether the shareholdings are able to be claimed as Mr Gutnick’s personal assets. According to documents, they are assets of companies he jointly owns with his wife and his son, Mordechai Gutnick.
Of the $2.7 million Chabad Properties loan, Mr Rimbaldi said: “We will certainly ask questions and find out whether there’s any relevance from a legal point of view.”
The largest of Mr Gutnick’s offshore exposures in US-listed gem explorer Consolidated Gems Inc is worth $11.59 million and owned through the family company Power Developments. In March, Consolidated Gems acquired the shares in Israeli company Byondata in a deal worth $US5 million.
Another company associated with the Gutnick family, Mazil Pty Ltd, owns a stake in Australia’s Merlin Diamonds, which is valued at more than $791,000.
Other family shareholdings include a $224,000 stake in Singapore’s Innopac Holdings and a $51,158 holding in local minerals explorer Quantum Resources.
According to documents obtained by Fairfax Media, one of Mr Gutnick’s overseas residences is in the luxurious Leonie Parc View condominium tower in the Orchard Road precinct of Singapore.
The smallest four-bedroom apartments in the building are on the market for $S5.3 million ($5.1 million), while luxurious penthouse apartments sell for $S9.2 million ($9 million).
Mr Gutnick’s residence is on the 21st floor, with sweeping views of Singapore.
According to Singapore real estate agents, the 29-storey Leonie Parc View tower “stands like a beacon in an urban oasis, which comprises of only 44 exclusive units”.
The building features a pool, jacuzzi, barbecue area and gymnasium, while all condos are “fitted with unparalleled luxury and designer fittings, including a walk-in closet, luxurious bathrooms, state-of-the-art kitchen, European appliances and servery”.
Mordechai Gutnick and Mr Gutnick did not answer questions from Fairfax Media, with the latter instead referring questions to his trustees in bankruptcy from Pitcher Partners, Gess Rimbaldi and Andrew Yeo.
Mr Rimbaldi, who was yesterday at Mr Gutnick’s offices in Southbank sifting through company records, said bankrupts did not necessarily have to declare the assets of their companies, merely the assets they owned directly. “But we will certainly follow that through and I’m grateful for that information,” Mr Rimbaldi told Fairfax Media.