Peter Drake's life of luxury and elusiveness
Signs outside ex-pat Kiwi Peter Drake's Gold Coast six-bedroom, eight bathroom mansion say all parts of the property are being recorded.
It's not clear when they were erected at the swanky, Mermaid Beach property but one wonders if it was after an Australian television crew "happened upon" Mr Drake in his driveway.
It seems Mr Drake is getting sensitive to public attention about his company, its funds management and the promises it has made to investors.
Today, there's a tradesmen's ute in the driveway and the front door is wedged open using a child's scooter, but no one answers the door when the bell is pushed.
Over the fence, a swimming pool is overlooked by a Kingfish sculpture.
Before arriving, NBR ONLINE had been told Mr Drake had bought the house next door, bowled it and built a skateboard bowl for his kids.
From the front step, a skateboard bowl is visible next to the adjoining "Beach House".
A tradesman suggests talking to Mr Drake's caretaker, Bryce, who's working on the beachfront-facing yard, with a radio blaring.
The view is breathtaking, straight from the raised grassed yard onto beach and surf. Only one person is visible.
Bryce gives permission for a photo – but says Mr Drake isn't there and he will pass on a business card.
A week later, the Albatross Avenue house is on the market, with an asking price of $A20 million.
The four-level property features six bedrooms, eight bathrooms and basement parking for up to five cars.
It is a stone's throw from his upmarket restaurant, Lauxes – yes, that's "sexual" spelt backwards.
A former LM employee says Mr Drake still has his homes in London, the south of France and, lastly, Fiji, where he has apparently been spending time recently.
NBR ONLINE has been trying to interview Mr Drake for months.
In November, after rival fund manager Trilogy Funds Management grabbed control of LM's wholesale management income fund, NBR ONLINE was told an interview was possible.
This was good news, after the Sydney Morning Herald characterised Mr Drake as "elusive" and the "Scarlet Pimpernel of funds management".
The story revealed Australian Financial Review reporter Ben Wilmot had been trying to contact Mr Drake for five years, "to no avail".
An email from LM communications manager Michelle Ballard on November 8 asked when we would like to interview him and to supply a list of questions.
NBR ONLINE responded it was interested in LM's first mortgage income fund, favoured by Kiwi investors, and the tangled web of related company dealings and loans, but no list of questions would be provided.
No problem, Ms Ballard said, "we can certainly clarify all of this with you in a phone interview. I will speak to Peter once he’s out of his meeting and arrange a time."
No time was arranged.
Ms Ballard was still happy to reject statements and allegations and routinely signed off her emails "I'm on mobile and email anytime."
However, in mid-March – the very day LM went into voluntary administration – this did not prove correct as NBR ONLINE's questions about LM and its flagship Queensland development Maddison Estate went unanswered.
Since then, Ms Ballard's mobile phone number has been removed from her email signature.
While stating Mr Drake is unavailable for interviews, she has also referred questions to lobbyist and former bankrupt Graham Staerk.
Mr Staerk told NBR ONLINE administrators FTI Consulting has day-to-day management of LM and "it would be appropriate to contact its principals" – through its spin doctor, of course.
Earlier this week, Ms Ballard referred questions about LM's managed performance fund being labelled a potential ponzi scheme to the fund's new trustees, KordaMentha and Calibre Capital.
Asked to provide its latest valuation for the Maddison site, she says: "Valuers do not allow valuations to be handed out and any questions are to be directed to KordaMentha/Calibre Capital."
People close to LM and in the property business tell NBR ONLINE they're heartened to see New Zealand's record of jailing those behind finance companies collapses.
However, that faith does not extend to its own regulator, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission, which has been told LM's managed performance fund is a potential ponzi scheme.
ASIC still has time to restore that faith, if it finds any wrongdoing.