Geoffrey Edelsten was jailed for a year in 1990. Photo: Simon O'Dwyer
Disgraced former doctor Geoffrey Edelsten has been accused of criminal contempt of court during a US legal stoush in which he was described as ''a serial con artist''.
The contempt allegation arises out of bitterly contested court cases in Florida in which Mr Edelsten is battling his former US business partners, the Mawardi family, over $US18 million allegedly invested by Mr Edelsten in enterprises including fashion label House of Nurielle, which used his wife, Brynne, as a model.
Broward County circuit judge Carlos Rodriguez has ordered Mr Edelsten to be brought before the court to show cause why he should not be held in criminal contempt after allegedly trying to use an Australian company to grab control of property in Ohio caught up in the dispute with the Mawardis.
Mr Edelsten's Miami lawyer, Robert Klein, said: ''We have cause to challenge the legitimacy of those allegations, and fully plan to do so if the allegations are not withdrawn''. He said the description of his client as a ''serial con man'' was ''preposterous''.
A hearing is scheduled for next month in Fort Lauderdale's Broward County courthouse.
But Mr Klein said the underlying legal dispute had been settled ''and it is therefore unlikely that the opposing parties or their counsel will be pursuing further claims''.
The contempt allegation is not Mr Edelsten's first contact with the criminal justice system. In 1990, he was jailed for a year in Australia after being convicted of perverting the course of justice and soliciting an assault by Christopher Dale Flannery, known as Mr Rent-A-Kill.
During court proceedings in Florida, counsel for the Mawardi family, Robert Stok, compared Mr Edelsten with Bernie Madoff, whose $US36 billion Ponzi scheme is the largest fraud in US history.
''I mean, this is a serial con artist,'' Mr Stok told a hearing on July 23.
He accused Mr Edelsten of engaging in a ''sham'' by using an Australian company of which he is not a shareholder, Highgate, to bring a foreclosure lawsuit in Ohio over the property.
Records held by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission show Mr Edelsten's accountant, Lindsay Hosking, is the sole director and shareholder of a company, Highgate Road.
Judge Rodriguez said that if Mr Edelsten had ''got his best friend to form a corporation'' there should be a show cause hearing ''because right now there's a court order that's certainly not being followed''.
Mr Klein said Mr Edelsten did ''not own or control'' Highgate Road.
Rafael Mawardi, his wife Limor and son Isaac filed the Broward County lawsuit last September and Mr Edelsten has filed a lawsuit covering many of the same issues in the federal Southern District Court of Florida.
The stoush revolves around control of a series of joint ventures - including House of Nurielle, a casino in the Dominican Republic and a Florida nightclub - and an aircraft.