Former Gold Coast nightclub owner Jamie Pickering. Picture: Jerad Williams
Former Gold Coast nightclub owner Jamie Pickering. Picture: Jerad Williams

Ex-nightclub owner’s $110m venture after coke bust

A WEALTHY former Gold Coast nightclub owner with a chequered past is a key figure in promoting the development of a planned $110 million beachfront housing estate in Mackay.

Jamie Pickering, who left the nightclub business after he was busted supplying cocaine to teenage girls in 2014, is the sole owner of a 97ha block of land at Shoal Point, about 20 minutes north of the Mackay city centre.

Development approvals are in place for a masterplanned community dubbed "The Esplanade,'' with 425 dwellings spread across 302 lots and nine parks or other public spaces.

City Beat has learned that there is now a multi-pronged effort to raise the money for the project at the same time that Pickering is personally facing a separate legal battle over a $4 million loan.

Former Gold Coast nightclub owner Jamie Pickering.
Former Gold Coast nightclub owner Jamie Pickering.

A Melbourne-based outfit known as the Global Capital Property Fund is currently encouraging investors to tip a minimum of $25,000 into the development, which it claims will be "Mackay's largest beachside community''.

The Fund's website highlights a track record of more than 800 property developments valued at well over $600 million.

 

 

For the Mackay development, the company is touting a 22 per cent annual return, well above their claimed long term average of 15 per cent.

To get the word out, we hear the Fund has deployed a Gold Coast telemarketing company to cold call self-managed super fund investors.

One of the Fund's three directors, Chris Pappas, is also tied to an outfit called Miracle Funds Management to rustle up nearly $23 million for the project.

A link off the Miracle website takes you to an "investment offer'' where punters are encouraged to become a "joint developer'' in the project. It describes the promoter and project manager as AustPro Management Services Group Pty Ltd, which is solely directed by Pappas.

Interestingly, Miracle CEO David Catsoulis, the company's biggest single shareholder, is a two-time bankrupt who once raised huge sums from well-known sporting, business and political heavy hitters.

Miracle CEO David Catsoulis.
Miracle CEO David Catsoulis.

Catsoulis went bust in early 2018 and is still an undischarged bankrupt. He was previously bankrupt over the eight years to 2014 after buckling beneath debts of more than $14 million.

Before it all ran off the rails in 2006, he owned mansions as he ran complementary medicine start-up Healing Power, which attracted huge sums for a float that never eventuated. He also amassed big donations for his charitable Blue Sky Foundation.

Pappas and other Fund directors did not return a call seeking comment yesterday. Catsoulis could not be reached.

ARABESQUE

Pickering, who has bought and sold millions of dollars worth of Gold Coast property over the years, also could not be reached for comment yesterday.

But we do know that he first splashed out $1.37 million in late 2015 to secure a half-stake in the Mackay property from a company called Arabesque.

It turns out that Arabesque is controlled by highly-regarded former jockey Mick Dittman, a Racing Hall of Fame legend who once won the Melbourne Cup in a stellar career lasting more than 30 years.

Former jockey Mick Dittman.
Former jockey Mick Dittman.

Records show that within six months, Pickering tipped in another $2 million to buy out Dittman and secure full ownership of the one-time farming land.

Just a month after taking control of the property in 2016, Pickering was sentenced to three years of probation for supplying girls, then aged 16 and 17, an unknown quantity of cocaine at a party in his Gold Coast penthouse two years earlier.

Fast forward to today and NAB sued Pickering and two of his companies acting as trustees for family trusts in the Brisbane Supreme Court last month for allegedly failing to repay $1.4 million on a $4 million line of credit dating back to 2011.

Pickering, son of the late boiler-room conman and cartoonist Larry Pickering, has not yet filed a defence in the case.



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