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Perth office link to the tale of gold and guns
By Mark Hawthorne
June 3, 2008
"LOCATION, location, location," is the mantra of property investors around the world. For West Australian mining hopefuls, you don't get a better real estate location than 34 Parliament Place, West Perth.
The building, once owned by the WA Government, is a stone's throw from Parliament House. It's a cosy and tangled little group that does business behind the high security walls at the property.
One company based there is Range Resources, the small-cap oil and mineral explorer that is drilling for oil in Puntland, Somalia.
Range Resources has come across Full Disclosure's radar before, in the aftermath of the collapse of Opes Prime.
Melbourne day trader and GT Falcon collector Leo Khouri, who lost tens of millions of dollars worth of shares in the collapse of Opes Prime, is a shareholder and consultant to the company.
Range Resources' executive director is Peter Landau, formerly of Melbourne. Landau's private company, Lacka Consulting, has its offices at 34 Parliament Place.
A lot of hiring must be done around the water cooler, because Lacka has a good track record of its staff becoming the company secretaries of other listed companies that work out of the building.
Former Range Resources company secretary Joanna Kiernan worked for Lacka before she departed the country. Lacka employee Jane Flegg is the joint company secretary of another listed mining explorer based at 34 Parliament Place - Contact Uranium.
It's interesting to note that Flegg is part-owner of a private company called Thirteen Eleven Pty Ltd, which is registered to 34 Parliament Place. Before she left Range Resources, Kiernan was also a part-owner of Thirteen Eleven. In December, Thirteen Eleven was one of the top 20 shareholders of another listed company called Continental Capital, with 1.975 million shares, or 1.24%, of the stock on issue.
Sure enough, Continental Capital operates out of 34 Parliament Place, and Peter Landau is the executive chairman.
Khouri's private super fund, Bejjal Super, was listed as owning 6.2 million Continental Capital shares in December.
Listed mineral explorer Artemis Resources is another company operating out of 34 Parliament Place .
Back on March 31, Continental Capital announced that Contract Uranium became a substantial shareholder in Artemis - you'll find the signatures of Flegg and Artemis director Barry Woodhouse on the documents filed with the ASX.
All three companies operate out of 34 Parliament Place.
But, even with all that intermingled mess, the chatter around 34 Parliament Place this morning will focus on another who works from the building - British mining millionaire John Stratton, who was the subject of last night's episode of Four Corners on the ABC.
Four Corners reported that Stratton has been named a co-conspirator in the murder of former Randgold & Exploration chief executive Brett Kebble in Johannesburg in 2005. Shortly before his death, it emerged Kebble was part of a plot to strip three companies - Randgold, Western Areas and JCI - of shares and that an estimated $400 million had been plundered.
Stratton was a director of R&E and JCI, and has since been named in a $US1 billion lawsuit against PricewaterhouseCoopers by the new directors of R&E.
R&E alleges that PwC was negligent in its auditing of the company's books from 2000 until 2003. PwC plans to fight the claim.
Also named in that affidavit is one Hendrik Buitendag, the former financial controller of R&E, who also resides in Perth. The affidavit alleges the directors of JCI, including Kebble, Stratton and Buitendag, "acting in their capacities as directors of JCI and in their personal capacities, devised a scheme, which scheme was intended to wrongfully through theft, deprive Randgold" of 2 million Roodepoort Deep Ltd shares.
Stratton has denied the allegations in South Africa, and would not comment when contacted by Full Disclosure.
Of course, lots of companies can share premises and never do business - but that rarely seems to be the case at 34 Parliament Place . Back in 2004, before they found their new offices, the three directors of listed Continental Goldfields were John Stratton, Peter Landau and Hendrik Buitendag.
In the light of the Four Corners program, and claims of the raiding of South African stock, Continental Goldfields had an interesting range of investments.
According to an ASX announcement signed off by Landau back in January 2005, Continental Goldfields held 60 million shares in JCI, which was 2% of the issued capital. Continental Goldfields also owned substantial shareholdings in Western Areas Ltd and R&E.
Stratton and Buitendag were directors of South African companies that Continental Goldfields held shares in, and companies that had shares go missing. In his letter to the ASX, Landau described the holding in JCI as a "strategic acquisition". By the middle of 2005, allegations that shares of Western Areas, JCI and R&E had been stolen started to emerge in South Africa.
In August 2005, Kebble was deposed as a director of the companies. In September, he was killed, shot seven times from close range.
Stratton and Buitendag departed as directors of Continental Goldfields in 2005, and the company's name changed to Continental Capital. Landau remains executive chairman. And it's address? 34 Parliament Place, of course.
Landau did not return calls from Full Disclosure.
Source: The Age