What is it about Gold Coast companies? It’s
long been the white-shoe capital of Australia,
home of a vastly disproportionate number of scams and shams, and even listed corporations
based there seem to have an affinity for trouble.

Most obviously over the past couple of
weeks, there’s been the Southport-headquartered Cloncurry copper hopeful,
CuDeco. Now the Queensland Government has finally confirmed that the outfit touted as Australia’s
largest tourism company, S8 Limited, is under investigation by the Office of
Fair Trading for allegedly ripping off “potentially millions of dollars”.

The Courier-Mailcovers the story, one that strikes at the
heart of the paranoia that stalks holiday investment property owners – the
possibility that the property manager is putting his or own interests first. In
part, the Curious reports:

The OFT is investigating claims
by holiday unit owners, including those in The Phoenecian complex at Broadbeach
which is managed by S8 subsidiary Driftcove Pty Ltd, of commission
“double-dipping”.The up-market building’s body
corporate has alleged S8 has been reaping holiday letting commissions as high
as 42% by directing reservations through a separate booking agency it
also owns.

A statement by The Phoenecian
body corporate chairman Wayne Stevens alleges S8 has “failed to act
honestly, fairly and professionally (and) failed to act in the interests of the
body corporate and the (unit) owners”.

Mr Stevens said yesterday one
owner had received rental of $90 a night in the peak Christmas holiday season
for a unit that was rented out by S8 for $242 a night.

S8 is no small fry. It manages about
5000 apartments in almost 50 holiday resorts in Queensland, owns Harvey World Travel and other travel companies and
recently announced a joint-venture travel company with Sir Richard Branson’s
Virgin group.

But it is Gold Coast based.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey