In search of the missing millions

The self-proclaimed Wolf of Wall Street – convicted fraudster Jordan Belfort – faces a bit of competition as he attempts to bankrupt his former Sydney business associate Ashley Howard over a $255,000 debt.
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An update from Elsmore Resources – which floated on the ASX just before Christmas – confirms that most of the $2.2 million it raised has gone missing.

In February, the company announced it had started proceedings in the Supreme Court of NSW against Howard ”seeking the return of company funds which may be in the possession or control of Mr Howard”.

In March the company reported the court proceedings were settled ”in principle, subject to certain payments being made to Elsmore” before July 9.

Elsmore chairman John Gaffney now reports that the parties allegedly in possession of the funds – which includes Howard – have ”committed an act of default” on the agreed settlement. He also revealed that all the money raised in the IPO had initially gone AWOL.

Gaffney says the company has now relisted court proceedings to recover $1.86 million, plus interest – ”being the share subscriber fees of $2,209,000, less the sum of $349,065 received by the company on 12 March 2014”.

Elsmore’s trading suspension is expected to remain in place until August 29, 2014. By that time Elsmore will have spent 75 per cent of its publicly listed life in a trading suspension.Grape gripes

It looks like the Australian wine industry has not produced much joy for Swiss billionaire Thomas Schmidheiny (right).

The heir to cement-making giant Holcim chatted to Bloomberg about his winemaking sideline, which stretches across four continents.

”If I could come back in my next life, it would be as a winemaker,” Schmidheiny told the news service at his four-hectare vineyard flanking the Rhine. But his Aussie wine venture, Chapel Hill near Adelaide, has been a challenge.

Schmidheiny says he overpaid for the winery in 2000 just as the industry’s bout of irrational exuberance led to what he describes as ”a lake of grapes” that ”pushed prices down”.

Schmidheiny’s Australian wine sales totalled $US6.2 million last year from 41,000 cases.

But his real bugbear is the hassle involved in overseeing his small Australian operation. ”For two days’ work, it’s a week’s travel,” Schmidheiny says.

We can only hope the family’s other Australian investment is faring better. Holcim acquired Rinker’s Australian assets from its parent – embattled Mexican cement group Cemex – for $2 billion in 2009.

Kirk’s boon

Former All Black captain and Fairfax Media chief David Kirk has got himself on the scoreboard at Kathmandu. Following his recent promotion to chairman, Kirk picked up 24,300 shares onmarket for $87,861.Lap of honour

Billionaire Gina Rinehart received an Order of Merit from the Australian Olympic Committee at its AGM on Saturday, which was accepted by daughter Ginia.

A copy of the speech posted on Hancock Prospecting’s website offered a heart-warming rundown of Ginia’s swimming career supported by her ”single working mum”.

”Swimming has been a long-standing and treasured part of our family. With much fondness I recall my own swimming training memories. Despite being a single working mum my mother would still do the daily morning drop-offs and pick-ups from the pool, come to all my competitions,” says the copy of her speech.

Missing from the transcript was a reported quote from the actual speech: ”My mother would take us to the pool and lovingly instruct that if we were sick, wait until the end of the pool and then be sick and turn around and continue swimming.”

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