License article

KalNorth Gold Mines chairman to hang up hat

INVESTMENT guru Laurence Freedman is to hang up his hard hat, announcing on Friday that he will retire as chairman of KalNorth Gold Mines.

The former Ten Network owner stepped into the role in 2010, following the death of executive chairman Frank Carr, and discovered a company in disarray.

Freedman was already a major investor in the company, which holds gold tenements about 50 kilometres north of Kalgoorlie that at the time seemed second to none.

''I go over to WA and find an absolute calamity,'' Freedman told CBD. ''We thought we were on the ground floor - we then found we were on the second or third basement.

''I said within two years we're going to be mining and everybody said, 'That's rubbish'.''

While KalNorth, then known as Carrick Gold, had been talking about a resource base of more than 4 million ounces of the yellow metal, a do-over of the exploration program resulted in estimates as low as 1.1 million ounces.


With the resource base firmed up, the company is set to begin mining in January, only a little outside Freedman's original timetable.

''I'm going to Bunnings and I'm going to get the biggest shovel I can get and I am going to turn the first sod,'' he said.

''It's about to turn out very well. Having said all that, I'm resigning.''

However, Freedman's money will remain where his mouth is: he told CBD he did not plan to sell any of his stake and last month he snapped up an additional $1 million worth of scrip.

He said he would spend more time working with Phoslock, a company he chairs that owns a technology that gets rid of algae from waterways, and his arts charity the Freedman Foundation.

But a return to Ten Network, which he and a consortium of businessmen bought out of receivership in 1992, turning it into a youth-focused TV group, seems unlikely.

Freedman sold out in 2004, when the share price was 10 times the 30.5ยข it is today.

''I actually don't think it's cheap,'' he told CBD.

He said Ten's management needed to come up with a way to embrace technology.

''You can't just keep firing people; they have to come up with a plan.''

Taxman wins

BAD news for fellow gold-bug Graham Daniels, who has had a run-in with the taxman over a company in tax haven Panama.

The Adelaide-based Daniels describes himself on the website of his enterprise, Dan El Private Estates, as having a ''background in precious metals, international business, law, real estate and Biblical studies''.

Dan-El offers the families of ''pastors, bishops, evangelists and teachers'' the ability to benefit from a gold and silver trust in tax haven Cyprus, to be presided over by a ''council of elders''.

But it is a company Daniels was involved in a decade ago, Panama-incorporated Anglo Far Eastern Bullion, that has drawn the attention of Michael D'Ascenzo's merry men.

In an affidavit tendered to the Administrative Appeals Tribunal, Daniels' dad, Peter, said the pair quit the company in 2005. Father and son received what Peter described as a ''modest settlement'' from the company totalling $US200,000.

The Australian Tax Office said Daniels had actually sold his shares in the company and whacked him with a capital gains tax bill, plus penalty.

Applying to the AAT for review, Daniels said he ''was not certain'' that he ever owned the shares, and if he ever did he must still own them because he had ''no recollection'' of signing a share transfer.

In the end, Daniels didn't turn up to the hearing and on November 14 the tribunal upheld the taxman's decision.

Savers punished

RETAILERS and realtors are always screaming for cuts to interest rates, even though the official cost of money is at historic lows.

But as ANZ boss Mike Smith never tires of pointing out, while people with mortgages always complain very loudly about usury, there are a lot of depositors out there who are dead keen on earning as high a rate as possible.

In bad news for people putting something away for a rainy day, the online-only UBank (CBD is a customer) run by Cameron Clyne's NAB last week quietly slashed the rate it offers on its savings account by 25 basis points.

This means it is offering at most 4.91 per cent, but only to customers who commit to depositing at least $200 a month into their USaver account. Everyone else gets 4.21 per cent.

Higher online rates are available, but as with UBank's offer they come tangled with terms and conditions.

RAMS slashed its rate by a whopping 58 bips to 5.17 per cent late last month - but only if you deposit $200 a month and make no withdrawals.

ING Direct has cut its offering by 50 points over the past two months, to 5.1 per cent - but this is an introductory rate, with the payout declining after four months.

As for ANZ, it is also offering 4.91 per cent, but only if you deposit at least $10 a month and make no withdrawals.

If you do dip into the account, the payout is a miserly 0.01 per cent.

Thanks, Mike.

Fairfax apologises for and withdraws the reference to Ross Smyth-Kirk in last Thursday's CBD.