With Salim Mehajer’s political career in tatters, the property development empire of the nation’s most famous former deputy mayor also appears on the ropes, bouncing cheques of as little as $15,000 to a key financier, according to court documents.
Mr Mehajer’s apartment tower at 38-44 John Street, Lidcombe — the only sizeable development he is actually currently building — has sat largely idle, less than half-built, for at least the past four months.
Documents lodged in the NSW Supreme Court show the broker he engaged to source up to $60 million to finance the project, Acuity Funding, in the western Sydney suburb of Pennant Hills, is suing him for more than $2m and seeking to take control of 5 per cent of each of four of his biggest land holdings.
According to court documents lodged by Acuity’s owner, Berhero, Mr Mehajer’s companies failed to pay an agreed $1.98m brokerage fee last June.
Instead, a deal was made whereby Mr Mehajer would sign over the 5 per cent stake in his properties between 36 and 44 John Street Lidcombe, and pay Acuity $25,000 a month.
According to court documents, the transfers never occurred and cheques from Mr Mehajer’s companies in June of $25,000 and $15,000 bounced.
Mr Mehajer yesterday denied that the project had stalled and said it was “ahead of schedule”. He declined to comment on the legal battle with Accuity.
He and the nine other elected members of Auburn City Council were suspended by NSW Local Government Minister Paul Toole on Wednesday ahead of a public inquiry into the council over allegations of corruption.
The bulk of Mr Mehajer’s developments are in John Street, the main street of Lidcombe in Sydney’s west, where he and his father have developed two towers of residential units.
Next door, at a 38-44 John Street, Mr Mehajer’s planned 11-story Skypoint Towers has sat largely idle for at least four months, construction apparently stalled at level six.
Locals note the development stalled months ago, saying truck loads of materials stopped arriving, the scaffolding ceased rising and two giant overhead cranes stopped operating.
“Over the last six months, a couple of people come and go, but I’m not sure what goes on there,” an adjacent shopkeeper said.
The Australian has visited the site numerous times in recent months, a handful of workers on site declining to comment on the development’s progress.
Irene Simms, who has raised concerns about some activities of Auburn councillors and who sat on the council until Wednesday’s suspension, said no significant work had occurred on the site in recent months. “A lot of people are commenting, there has been no substantial work there for a long time, nothing appears to be happening on site,” she said.
The brokerage fees charged by Accuity are substantial and the group describes itself as specialising in “sourcing funding options for clients who others have been unable to assist due to the complexities of their financing needs”.
At least some financing for Skypoint Towers appears to have been provided by private investors.
The legal action between Mr Mehajer’s companies and Berhero continues.