Small Perth stockbroking outfit Stellar Securities has locked out staff amid a tax investigation into high-profile Perth mining investor Tony Sage.
Staff at Stellar Securities - which was a major sponsor of Mr Sage's A-League soccer club Perth Glory - turned up on Monday to find the doors of their plush St Georges Terrace office locked by the landlord, who claims rent has gone unpaid for several months.
Stellar Securities operates from 108 St Georges Terrace in the Perth CBD, the same office once owned by the fallen entrepreneur Alan Bond and home to one of his best-known purchases, Vincent Van Gogh's Irises painting.
A notice on Stellar Securities' door said on Monday: "The Landlord has re-taken possession of these premises." The sign directed inquiries and deliveries to Stellar managing director and founder Nathan Barbarich.
Mr Barbarich, formerly of ABN Amro, and director Kent Hunter, also a director of Cazaly Resources, have not responded to numerous calls.
Stellar Securities was one of three Perth stockbroking firms believed to have been raided by the corporate regulator late last year in relation to an investigation into Mr Sage and Cape Lambert Resources.
Mr Sage yesterday would not comment on the investigation or raids that had occurred in and around Perth just before Christmas. He did confirm that Stellar Securities was no longer a major sponsor of the football club he owns. "We have an announcement of a new major sponsor early next week," he said.
The eviction notice at Stellar Securities follows a spate of employee departures from the 18-month-old business and comes amid tough times in the industry.
One-time director Terry Gardiner said he left Stellar Securities 2½ weeks ago due a "difference of opinion" on the company's direction, but remained a shareholder.
Mr Gardiner was previously a director of the London-listed Red Emperor Resources with Mr Sage. Mr Hunter was also a director of Cauldron Energy with Mr Sage.
Declining to say whether Stellar Securities was profitable on his departure, Mr Gardiner nonetheless said he wasn't aware of any recent troubles.
"Like every other broking firm in Australia, it's doing it tough," he said. "Volumes right across Australia in the broking sector have dried up, and WA is more exposed to the junior sector than the rest of Australia."
Stellar is estimated to have fewer than 20 employees.
According to its website, Stellar offers securities trading, corporate advisory and capital raisings, research, funds management, private capital investment, mergers and acquisitions.
Stellar Securities' four Melbourne employees are believed to have severed ties with the company last week.
It is believed that a number of larger stockbroking firms are keen to take over Stellar's former Melbourne output.