Australian corporate fugitive Abraham ‘Abe’ Goldberg dies in Poland, owing more than $1.3 billion
One of Australia’s most notorious corporate fugitives, Abraham “Abe” Goldberg, has died in Poland more than 25 years after his textile empire collapsed with debts of $1.3 billion and warrants were issued for his arrest.
Creditors and corporate regulators will be incensed to learn that Goldberg is understood to have left an inheritance of more than €500 million ($728 million) after amassing a vast property portfolio in Warsaw since fleeing Melbourne.
Abraham ‘Abe’ Goldberg, one of Australia’s most notorious corporate fugitives, has died in Poland more than 25 years after fleeing Australia.
However, the Australian Taxation Office, disgruntled shareholders and more than 30 major lenders will not receive a cent.
To add further insult, tributes in Poland last week have hailed Goldberg as a “distinguished benefactor” for the significant financial contribution he made to several Jewish organisations based in Poland.
In the late 1980s, Goldberg ranked as Australia’s fourth wealthiest person with an estimated fortune of $600 million.
Known in corporate circles as the “square dancer” for his habit of rapidly changing business partners, Goldberg lived in a sprawling faux-Tudor mansion on Toorak’s Orrong Road.
At the time, his company Linter Group was reputed to be the world’s biggest textile manufacturer, with a stable of famous Australian brands including Speedo, Stubbies, Pelaco and King Gee.
The company was battered by the sharemarket crash in 1987 but continued to take on more debt.
The empire crumbled in 1990, when Linter Group was placed in liquidation, but millions of dollars had already been siphoned to offshore havens and trust accounts.
Goldberg followed the lead of other corporate villains such as Alan Bond and Christopher Skase by fleeing to Europe and thumbing his nose at the Australian Securities and Investments Commission.
He sought refuge in Poland, where he was born in 1929. His family had emigrated to Australia in 1948 after escaping from a Nazi ghetto during the war.
He changed his name to Aleksander Kadyks but used several aliases, including Adam Goldberg and Aleksander Goldberg, before establishing a string of businesses in Warsaw with his daughter and son-in-law.
Australian corporate investigators issued more than 10 arrest warrants for Goldberg, but the only person to face justice over Linter Group’s demise was the company’s finance director Katy Boskowitz, who received a five-year prison sentence in 1998.
While the global hunt by ASIC and liquidators foundered, a journalist from The Bulletin magazine tracked Goldberg down in 2005. He was hiding in plain sight, living in a luxury apartment in an upmarket suburb of Warsaw.
Goldberg was coy when asked if he intended to return to Australia.
“When I’m ready I will come,” he said.
“People live to 100. There’s plenty of time. I’ll come when it suits me,” he told The Bulletin.
Goldberg was 87 when he died last month.