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Little glamour in Sage's empire

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Peter Ker and Rania Spooner

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Tony Sage raid

Perth Glory owner's businesses raided.

PT0M0S 620 349

For a man who used to pose for photographs beside a Ferrari and a beautiful woman, the properties related to Tony Sage that were raided by Federal Police on Wednesday are anything but glamorous.

In this dowdy network of Perth cul de sacs, wedged between a major freeway, a railway line and a massage business that is open ‘‘till late’’, the only hint of glamour is the framed playing shirt of Argentinian soccer club River Plate that has hung above Mr Sage’s desk from time to time.

It is believed the authorities may have visited more than one property in this small corner of Perth, including the building that houses the city’s A-League soccer club Perth Glory, which is one of several businesses in Mr Sage’s web.

Perth Glory owner Tony Sage.

Perth Glory owner Tony Sage.

Perth Glory, which recently failed in its bid to sign superstar David Beckham, released a statement this afternoon confirming the raids did not enter its offices and that the club was not involved in the enquiries.

Mr Sage’s main company, Cape Lambert Resources, has also issued a statement distancing itself from the raids, despite having its own tax problems earlier this year.

‘‘The company believes the matters relating to the execution of these warrants are not related to its business and have co-operated with the AFP fully,’’ Cape Lambert Resources said in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

Cape Lambert Resources recently pledged to pay $33 million to the tax office as a preliminary payment on a wider tax dispute.

With his two highest profile business interests seemingly distanced from the raids, uncertainty remains around Mr Sage’s personal tax affairs and the network of micro-cap companies he is involved in.

Aside from Cape Lambert Resources, in which his biggest ASX-listed share holdings are located, Mr Sage is also director of at least eight other listed and private companies.

This part of his world is typified by over-lap: the registers often feature both Mr Sage and Cape Lambert as separate investors, with many of his companies holding stakes in each other.

Sources suggest Kupang Resources - which was previously known as Chameleon Mining - had its offices visited under yesterday's raids.

Rugby League legend Benny Elias is one of a small number of individuals that have partnered in Kupang with Mr Sage, and the company has spent much of its life in court battles, including some successful cases against Murchison Metals.

An accountant by trade, Mr Sage’s approach to the resources industry has been to scour the world for distressed assets, fix them up and then sell them on at a higher price.

The highlight of his dealings in the resources sector arguably came in 2008, when he sold a Western Australian magnetite project called ‘‘Cape Lambert’’ to Chinese interests for $400 million.

That company, the Metallurgical Corporation of China, is also involved as a contractor on the Sino Iron magnetite project that has helped deliver Clive Palmer a fortune.

It’s unclear which of those two projects has been more disastrous for MCC: both have suffered major delays and cost blowouts, and MCC was this week reported to be scaling back its presence in WA.

MCC is now looking for a ‘‘strategic partner’’ to help it salvage something from ruins at Cape Lambert.

Cape Lambert Resources’ current focus is an iron ore project in Sierra Leone known as Marampa.

Shares in Cape Lambert Resources were down 1.5 cents to 27 cents in afternoon trade on the back of the raids, which are part of an ongoing AFP investigation in partnership with commonwealth agencies including the Australian Crime Commission, Australian Tax Office, and Australian Securities and Investments Commission.

5 comments so far

  • This is a throwback to the old 1980s story of the frog in St Georges Tce that demands to be kissed by a beautiful handmaiden to turn into a mining entrepreneur. To which said hadmaiden keeps the frog with the words "A frog is much cooler to have than an entrepreneur".
    There back!!!
    They never left really..

    Commenter
    the spaniard
    Location
    perth
    Date and time
    December 20, 2012, 4:56PM
    • I thought from your description of where the premises is and the area, that it was in some industrial park out in the sticks. The area where they are located is relatively inner-city and like most inner-city areas of Perth it is quite a nice area.

      Commenter
      brianoh
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      December 20, 2012, 5:25PM
      • Quite right. The office is actually in West Leederville and located just behind Macmahon and Australia Post's HQ. Thousands of commuters pass by each day on Cambridge St, just metres away.

        Commenter
        mypenismighty
        Location
        perth
        Date and time
        December 20, 2012, 6:06PM
    • You Journo's would love to have those properties, stick a sock in it.

      Commenter
      Mark
      Location
      Perth
      Date and time
      December 20, 2012, 7:35PM
      • Cheap shot at sage and co.
        The massage "open all hours" is a legitimate business!
        worst of all my offices are also in the area....
        crap paper, which i don`t subscribe to or read.

        Commenter
        John 6007
        Location
        Perth
        Date and time
        December 20, 2012, 9:18PM

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