Australia’s $6.5bn Oakajee project backer holds long record of shady businesses
After weeks of speculations over who could be behind Padbury Mining’s (ASX:PDY) announced $6.5 billion secured funding to build to build the long-delayed Oakajee deep-water port and railway in Western Australia, Sydney businessman Roland Bleyer has come out claiming to be the main backer.
The revelation, however, is unlikely to improve Padbury’s tainted reputation, as Bleyer is widely known for having a “colourful” business past.
As the Sydney Morning Herald reports, Bleyer claims to have been in negotiations with the government of Prime Minister George Papandreou to lend Greece billions of euros during its debt crisis.
He also says he played a key role at an Azerbaijani bank and had business meetings with Lebanese prime minister Rafic Hariri, prior to his assassination in 2005, and with ministers of the Syrian government.
In 1989 he reportedly admitted to buying an honorary doctorate and professorship from a university in Sicily, Italy.
And if that doesn’t seem enough to make him “interesting,” read this: Bleyer says he was held captive for several hours in London back in 2000 until a ransom was paid after his notoriety led to gangsters kidnapping him for financial gain.
Bleyer, reports The Australian, first became somehow popular in Australia in 1985 when a TV host grilled him on air over a business that was using animal foetal cells to treat children with Down syndrome.
Padbury, a company with a market value of less than $70 million, told the ASX earlier this month that it had struck a deal with unnamed private Australian investors who would provide $6.5bn in equity to build Oakajee.
The money had been “secured”, Padbury said, and the deal was a “major breakthrough for the company and the region”, which meant the Midwest could finally “exploit its mineral assets.”
The news sent Padbury shares soaring more than 100% to a high of 5.2 cents. On the same day, the miner placed itself in a trading halt because it would not name private equity investors it said would fund the deal. Last week it went into voluntary suspension with the same questions still unanswered.
The Oakajee port and rail project has the potential to become one of the major suppliers of Australian raw materials to Asia, particularly iron ore.