Interesting article I found From the Age website ! [/b]
This insolvent man is here on business
Author: Stuart Rintoul
Publication: SUNDAY AGE
AN INSOLVENT South African businessman, with debts of up to $10million and whose property has just been seized by a Cape Town bank, has been accepted as a business migrant by Australia. Mr Richard Rubin, 36 _ who listed the market value of his assets in January last year at 122million rands ($60million) _ arrived in Australia seven weeks ago. Behind him, he left a scramble to sell up his assets, including a lavish mansion near Cape Town.
The trustee for his failed estate, Mr Chris van Zyl, told `The Sunday Age' that he doubted Mr Rubin intended to return to South Africa to face his creditors. Mr Van Zyl has been instructed to pursue Mr Rubin's assets to Australia, although the flamboyant former millionaire denies removing assets from South Africa.
Mr Rubin made a fortune from the invention and sale of a hotel hair-drier used by some of the world's biggest hotel chains. In 1989, he had business interests in Australia, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Canada and the United States.
The $10million mansion he built in 1989 at Hout Bay, near Cape Town, included an artificial lake, stables and an aviary of exotic birds, including blue cranes, pink flamingoes, swans and Amazon parrots. His garage, which was carpeted from floor to ceiling, once housed seven cars, including a BMW, a Rolls-Royce Corniche, a Mercedes-Benz and a Ferrari _ all of which had been bought on lease agreements.
Suspicion dogged his success. He said narcotics agents and tax investigators paid him unwelcome visits.
Mr Rubin arrived in Melbourne on 15August soon after having applied to become a business migrant. On 24 August his estate was provisionally sequestrated and his companies were provisionally liquidated _ the first step in the confiscation and sale of his property to pay creditors.
The sequestration order was made final and his business, Panache Group of Companies Pty Ltd, was liquidated on 23 September after the Investec Bank claimed in the Supreme Court in Cape Town that both Mr Rubin and Panache were unable to pay their debts. The bank is owed 3.5million rands ($1.7million) by the Richard H. Rubin Trust on loans from October 1988 to July last year.
Investec claimed in an affidavit that Mr Rubin had left South Africa, had abandoned his residence and had thus committed an act of insolvency. The bank said Mr Rubin had ``vast debts which he cannot pay".
``Although (Mr Rubin) states that he is possessed of vast assets, which might be capable of being realised, it is clear from his conduct that he is insolvent and unable to pay his debts ... It is clear that (he) has left the Republic of South Africa with the intention of evading payment of his debts." For the past month, Mr Rubin, wife Rene and their three young children have lived in a sparsely furnished million-dollar property, Quamby Lodge, in North Ringwood. He says he brought nothing to Australia with him but the clothes on his back but he and his wife drive two new cars _ a 1991 Toyota Celica and a new Toyota Tarago station wagon. He says the house and cars are part of a new business arrangement, which he will not discuss.
The 110-square house was put up for sale in June, advertised as ``a complete oasis" that would ``capture the imagination of those seeking a most luxurious and clean-air lifestyle". Set on 1.2 hectares, it has a heated indoor saltwater swimming pool and spa, tennis court and four bedrooms. The property was passed in at $810,000 on 6 June. The owner, Mr Robert Perkins, who now lives in Queensland, had sought $1.2million.
During a long interview with Mr Rubin and his Sydney solicitor, Mr Arnold Colyer, Mr Rubin said he had applied for business migration to Australia about 11 weeks ago while in another country and had satisfied the criteria. It is believed Mr Rubin applied from Malaysia.
The Immigration Department has confirmed that Mr Rubin entered Australia as a business migrant but has refused, on privacy grounds, to disclose other information, including whether the department knew of his financial position when he was accepted. A spokesman said: ``Obviously our fellows know about him ... but he's here and life goes on." The criteria for entering Australia under the ``business skills" category were tightened in February. Applicants must prove, among other things, annual net assets of $350,000 and demonstrate a ``successful business career". An independent panel of experts was set up to vet applicants.
Mr Rubin confirmed that, as well as the 3.5million rands owed to Investec, the Richard H. Rubin Trust owed the First National Bank six million rands ($2.9million). He denied fleeing South Africa. He said he was a ``man of principle" who would pay his creditors every cent they were owed and intended returning to South Africa soon.
Despite his insolvency in South Africa, Mr Rubin claimed to have total assets of almost $100 million spread over related companies and trusts.
``One of the most important things to me right now is to keep my health on track and my life on track," he said. ``I believe I have been dealt a really crap blow. It was something that was totally unnecessary because if someone had actually just picked up a telephone and said `Hey Rich, what's going on?' I would have told them. I would have gladly gone back and surrendered whatever needed to be surrendered in order to structure everything pretty amicably.
``The choice that I had to make was, do I spend the next 10 years of my life trying to convince a liquidator and Investec Bank and this one and that one that I'm not a bad guy, or do I get on with my life and, at the end of the day, prove to the whole lot of them that the whole thing was fruitless and pointless? And I'm pretty good at coming around the second time." Brandishing a return air ticket to Johannesburg, he said that, although he had applied for migration to Australia about 11 weeks ago, it was coincidental that he was in Australia when the Investec Bank moved in. He said he came to Australia in August after doing business in Asia to see his son, who was visiting relatives.
Mr Rubin blamed his business collapse on a two-year feud with a former partner, a heart condition and litigation in South Africa, which he said had sopped up millions of rands. He said that he had been on the brink of a multimillion-dollar Arab deal and was now involved in a multimillion-dollar Australian deal.
He said he had not returned to South Africa on the advice of his solicitor and doctor. (He had a heart bypass in September last year and said he needed to avoid stress.) Asked whether he would return to South Africa, he laughed and said: ``Do you see any reason why I should return to South Africa?" Reports from South Africa say that before he left, Mr Rubin stripped his mansion. He denies it was stripped, saying furnishings belonging to his wife were removed when he decided to sell the mansion because he and his wife had decided to separate.
In Cape Town, Mr Van Zyl said Mr Rubin's total debts had already been put at 20million rands ($9.6million) and could go higher.
``What we want to know is where are all those assets that have suddenly disappeared," he said.
Mr Van Zyl said Mr Rubin had phoned some creditors and promised to repay his debts and return to South Africa. ``I think you will appreciate we are all somewhat sceptical. A man doesn't strip his house in the manner that he did if he intends to return." Mr Rubin entered Australia on a South African passport, but also carries an Irish passport. His wife, Rene, whose family is Irish, and their three young children have been in Australia for two-and-a-half months on a one-year visitor's visa. They are entitled to stay in Australia now as the spouse and dependants of a migrant. Mr and Mrs Rubin both have family in Australia.
Since arriving in Australia, Mrs Rubin has claimed through her Cape Town lawyers in that many of the assets seized belong to her, not to her husband. When first approached, Mrs Rubin said the allegations about her husband were nonsense and completely untrue, but added: ``If it's true or not, what's it got to do with here?"