The US District Court has cleared the way for a $400 million fraud claim against the “sham” company at the centre of colourful Sydney businessman Roland Frank Bleyer’s audacious plan to finance the Oakajee port and rail project in Western Australia.
The court order comes as Perth-based junior explorer Padbury Mining continues to defer its promise to reveal the details of its $6.5 billion deal with Mr Bleyer’s company, Superkite, to revive the long-stalled Oakajee project.
It has been almost three weeks since Padbury told the market it had secured $6.5bn in equity funding and signed an agreement with unnamed private Australian backers, later revealed to be Mr Bleyer and Superkite.
The Padbury announcement has sparked scrutiny of Mr Bleyer’s past business dealings amid revelations of a string of civil and criminal cases brought against him in the US.
In the latest setback, judge Sharon Coleman rejected an application by Superkite to throw out Chicago businessman Ross Glickman’s fraud case against it, finding that his allegations had been “adequately alleged”.
The allegations include claims by Mr Glickman that Superkite was a “sham entity” formed by Mr Bleyer and others in an effort to escape their contractual obligations under a 2010 joint venture deal to buy shopping malls in the US.
“The court finds that Glickman adequately alleges a scheme by Superkite and the third-party defendants to defraud him,” the judge said in a ruling handed down in Chicago late last month.
Mr Glickman alleges Superkite did not have any independent funding and was a mere instrument of Mr Bleyer and his Hayman group of companies. He said Superkite had no actual employees or operations.
Under the ruling, Mr Glickman will also be allowed to join to his claim a Bleyer-controlled company that had links to former federal tourism minister John Brown.
The Australian revealed this week that Mr Brown was a former director of Hayman Private Equity Australia, which was one of the parties to the US joint venture with Mr Glickman.
Mr Brown was a director of HPEA at the time the agreement with Mr Glickman was signed in January 2010. He quit as a director in December 2010 on the same day he was declared bankrupt. But HPEA did not tell ASIC of Mr Brown’s resignation until November last year, according to records held by the corporate regulator.
Mr Brown denies any knowledge of the US joint venture.
Justice Coleman also ordered that Mr Bleyer’s lawyer, John Stammers, of Sydney law firm Holman Webb, could be joined to Mr Glickman’s legal action.
She said Mr Glickman had adequately alleged that Mr Stammers, a director of Superkite, conspired with Mr Bleyer and others to create a sham corporation. Mr Stammers denies the allegations.
Mr Glickman, however, failed in an application to join Mr Bleyer personally to the action after the judge found there was no proof he had been properly served with legal documents.