Illustration: John Shakespeare.
THE ski slopes of Whistler and suburban Las Vegas might be good places for investigators to look as they hunt for offshore assets belonging to fallen child-minder ''Fast'' Eddy Groves.
Groves, whose ABC Learning empire collapsed in 2008 owing more than $1.6 billion, was bankrupted by Commonwealth Bank a fortnight ago over an $8 million loan he had used to buy the Adelaide Dome. Trustee in bankruptcy Mark Robinson of PPB was appointed to chase down the dollars.
Queensland court records show Groves owned a gigantic spread on the southern outskirts of Vegas, worth $US2.5 million, and half of a $C454,000 ($A437,000) unit in a hotel development at Whistler, a ski resort town in British Columbia.
According to the Vegas place's listing on a US real estate agent's website, the Asian-themed, five-bedroom, eight-bathroom ''palace'' comes complete with a double-sided glass fireplace, indoor water feature, 15-seat home theatre and a full-size billiard table.
Groves also had a bank account with US bank Wells Fargo, although it contained only a couple of thousand bucks.
CBD uses the past tense because Groves may well have flogged off the assets since last May, when he disclosed them to the Queensland Supreme Court records as part of a stoush over bail conditions (charges against the former milkman have since been dropped).
Groves told the court he needed his bail varied so he could travel to the US to sell the Vegas property, which he valued at $US2.5 million.
''I would like to be personally involved in any preparations for sale and not have to undertake these tasks remotely from Australia,'' he said in an affidavit.
''The house is a significant asset.''
Significant indeed. The property also boasts a ''sleek and breathtaking swimming pool'', ''endless exotic wood built-ins, pro-grade appliances and state-of-the-art A/V throughout'' and ''spectacular, unobstructed views of the entire Las Vegas Valley, day or night'', according to its listing on Oakville Properties.
It looks like Groves got a sale, with US property website Redfin recording it as changing hands for $US2.5 million on July 30 last year.
But could he have got more? Oakville is offering the ''stunning Asian-fusion contemporary estate'' for a mere $US7 million.
CBD has dropped a line to the firm's president, Aaron Wheeler, to see if it's still on the market.
''TODAY'S co-host, Frances Whiting, owns shares in ABC Learning Centres.'' - ABC Radio Queensland profile of ''astute businessman'' Eddy Groves, August 3, 2005.
Value of one ABC Learning share on August 3, 2005: $5.32.
Value of one ABC Learning share today: $0.
FANGS out for Macquarie Group at Uncle Rupert Murdoch's The Sunday Times, which labelled the millionaires factory ''the vampire kangaroo'' at the weekend.
The Sunday Times, Rupert's weekend title, reckons that since 2005 funds controlled by Macquarie and its investment partners have paid just £1.8 million ($A2.7 million) in tax despite reaping £2.2 billion in divvies and interest payments on four big UK assets.
''If Goldman Sachs was dubbed Wall Street's 'vampire squid' for 'relentlessly jamming its blood funnel into anything that smells like money', critics say Macquarie is Britain's 'vampire kangaroo', feasting on our creaking infrastructure and then hopping back to Sydney with billions in its pouch,'' the paper said.
It said Macquarie was not accused of breaking the law but used tax breaks and tax havens to ''whittle its tax bill down to, in most cases, nil''.
The joy of six
HE PROFESSES to be ''very happy'', but does a heart of stone beat under the cheerful exterior presented by Commonwealth Bank boss Ian Narev?
Asked during a teleconference on Tuesday to rate the bank's record $3.78 billion half-year cash earnings, he told Bell Potter analyst TS Lim he plumped for six out of 10 ''because I'm very happy''.
''But I would never rate anything above that at seven,'' he quickly added.
The transcript records an unidentified voice as chiming in: ''He is very hard-hearted.''
A TYPO in Tuesday's CBD might have confused some readers. Liberal MP Josh Frydenberg did not get $1000 from Harmers Workplace Lawyers as part of the CEO Cookoff charity event on Monday night.
Harmers pledged the money as part of the fund-raising efforts of publican Justin Hemmes. Frydenberg gave $100 towards Hemmes' $34,000 fund-raising total.
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