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Crystal clear: car wash magnate faces mounting legal problems

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Nick Ralston

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Involved in five court cases ... Anthony Sahade.

Involved in five court cases ... Anthony Sahade. Photo: Dean Sewell

ANTHONY SAHADE, the millionaire businessman dubbed Sydney's car wash king, says he is not the type to throw punches. But he now appears to be in a fight to save his empire.

Over the past fortnight Mr Sahade, his home and his company Crystal Car Wash have been involved in five court cases spread across three Sydney court houses.

They have included allegations of assault, property disputes and an apprehended violence order application.

But arguably his most pressing problem was laid bare in the Federal Court on Friday where a lawyer for the Fair Work Ombudsman stated his company, which he started in 1993, was now in a ''precarious'' position.

Mr Sahade had been taken to court by the Fair Work Ombudsman on allegations he had underpaid 359 car wash workers at 10 of his Sydney outlets including Bondi, Chatswood, Mosman and Strathfield.

Those allegedly being underpaid were mainly young foreign workers from Asia, in Sydney as students or on working holidays.

The Fair Work Ombudsman claimed the workers had been underpaid more than $177,000.

The Federal Court was told that Crystal Car Wash was prepared to pay $28,000, but it was in a ''precarious'' financial position with no assets in NSW or Australia.

A week earlier, Mr Sahade was in court charged with assaulting his neighbour outside his $11.25 million home on Wolseley Road at Point Piper.

Police allege an altercation between Mr Sahade and his neighbour Eckhart Bischoff reached the point where Mr Bischoff was punched, causing his nose to bleed and cuts to his face and arm.

Mr Sahade is fighting the charges and told police that on the day, in March this year, he was the victim.

He is said to have told one of the first officers at the scene: ''Look at me, I've never been in a fight in my life.''

Mr Sahade has, however, been involved in a long list of colourful legal battles.

Three years ago a magistrate dismissed assault charges against him after he allegedly threw rocks and threatened to break the neck of an arborist, who was trying to chop down a tree at a neighbour's house.

The charges were thrown out because there was reasonable doubt that the stones hit their target and that anyone had actually felt threatened by Mr Sahade.

One person who did feel threatened, though, was the mayor of Ryde, Ivan Petch, who took out an apprehended violence order against Mr Sahade after he allegedly bombarded him with threatening phone calls.

The harassment was allegedly sparked after Councillor Petch blocked a car wash development application. In one phone call it was claimed that Mr Sahade, a keen and talented musician, played the theme of The Godfather down the phone to Cr Petch.

Mr Sahade also engaged in long-running disputes with Woollahra and Warringah councils for setting up two of his now 14 car washes without any approval.

He had already threatened Woollahra Council that if his car wash was not approved he would donate the land at Rushcutters Bay to the Muslim community so a mosque could be erected.

Mr Sahade's legal battles, including the assault charge, have been adjourned until the new year.

with Stephanie Gardiner

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