The shadowy, bizarre company that bought Tinkler's stud
Nathan Tinkler announced he has sold his horse stud to private investment group Cibola Capital. Freelance writer Kiwa Fisher investigates Cibola -- and finds animal cruelty, an Olympian and very murky waters.
Four weeks after the announcement that Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm horse stud had been sold, the sale has still not been completed and doubts are growing about the deal and the company behind it, United Arab Emirates-based private investment group Cibola Capital, with some wondering if Cibola is all that it seems.
Although Tinkler’s statement quoted “Cibola chief executive Daniel Kenny” and the company’s website, launched in August 2013, lists him as “president/chief executive”, some are even questioning whether he actually exists. The website claims he’s the grandson of another Daniel Kenny, founder of the “DP Kenny Construction” company in 1927, which went on “to be one of the leading construction companies in Sydney at the time”. Yet searching the digitised newspapers on Trove turns up no reference to the company, no tenders, no company or job advertisements, nor is the company listed among either the Sydney or Country Builders in the Sands Directory 1930 to 1933.
Beyond Tinkler’s statement, Cibola’s website, and another, www.csi-investments.com it’s hard to find any trace of either Kenny. Of Cibola’s “executive management” team, only “vice-president and director of mining” Michael Dewick can be cross-referenced. Dewick’s LinkedIn page lists him as “managing director at CSI Investments”, UAE. But ASIC lists him as director of Perth-based Commercial Services International Investments, whose registered office is shared with the “Exclusive Backpackers” hostel at 158 Adelaide Terrace. Crikey attempted to contact the backpackers’ hostel, with no success. And what is CSI? Cibola’s website says, “Through over 80 years the company has gone through name changes and diversification”, and “CSI Investments” appears to be the company’s immediately preceding name — which the uncannily similar websites reflect.
Although both those websites claim “over 3,000 dedicated staff around the world”, neither bears close inspection, with multiple copyright and trademark infringements, mangled English, dubious claims, and one cracking typo — “Cibola Capital has been investing in the Mining and Expiration for over 40 years”. Among the 24 companies in which Cibola claims to invest are several household names like Apple and Facebook, but also included are the much less well-known RTG Motorsport, Falcon Sports and Emirates Tuna, whose legitimacy and existence is debatable, with no listings in Australian or UAE company registries. Both seem to have “borrowed” their logos from other companies. Text has also been lifted from the websites of other, legitimate investment companies. New York-based Cerberus Capital’s website has been hardest hit, with Cibola reproducing Cerberus’s “Control and Non-control Private Equity Investments”, “Investment Strategies” and “Corporate mid-market Lending” pages word for word. Cibola’s “Values”, which include “the highest ethical standards”, are also taken, word for word, from Advent International’s website.
Online directory www.zoominfo.com has an entry for CSI Investments, and Michael Dewick’s older brother Steven is listed as the chairman and chief operating officer. The company profile says it is “one of Australasia’s leading sports, recreation, leisure groups” and that “all the associated companies have expanded rapidly” — although the two mentioned, Aquatic Diversions and Leisure One Management, have both been deregistered with ASIC, Aquatic Diversions in 2007 and Leisure One Management in 2005. The address for Leisure One on the Central Coast was also home to the Tascott and Steven Dewick Swim Schools, both of which have also been removed from the ASIC registry.
Steven is the better known of the brothers, an Olympic swimmer who won bronze at the Atlanta Games in the 4×100 metre medley (in the same team as Scott Miller). The brothers also have form in the racing industry — Michael owned Queensland company Ivory Bloodstock, and Steven trained racehorses at Ivory Lodge Stud which also stood two stallions Copeton and Coat’s Choice.
Ivory Lodge came to an abrupt halt when Queensland’s Department of Primary Industries and Fisheries raided the property twice in June and October 2006 after receiving complaints about the welfare of the horses. In the June raid 13 horses were seized and six were destroyed, and in October the remaining 36 horses were seized, with The Chronicle reporting that more than a third of those would not have survived had they remained on the property. Queensland Racing promptly suspended Steven Dewick’s trainer’s licence and later placed him on the forfeit list for non-payment of monies owing.
After a stint coaching the Pakistani National Swim Team in 2007, Dewick turned up in Tewkesbury, England, in 2009 where he worked as coach of the local swimming club and became landlord of a pub, The Berkeley Arms. Initially it went well, with the pub winning an award for the quality of the ales it had served over that winter, but by the summer Dewick had disappeared, leaving behind a wrecked pokie machine and mystified pub owner, Wadworth Brewery, whose spokesman said: “We have no idea where the landlord is, he’s just vanished”. They should have looked in Geraldton, WA, because that’s where Dewick is next mentioned, with The West Australian reporting in February 2011 that the Geraldton Swimming Club was in a civil dispute with him, alleging he’d absconded with $3000. By November 2011 he was in Dubai, with gulfnews.com reporting him working as recreation manager at the Habtoor Grand Beach Resort.
The Dewick brothers’ last venture into the racing industry doesn’t inspire confidence for the future of Patinack, its staff or indeed its horses, and Nathan Tinkler will possibly have to embark on a search similar to the 16th-century Spanish Conquistador Vasquez de Coronado’s quest for the original Cibola, a mythical golden city near Spain’s American colonies. Coronado eventually found Cibola; it was a simple adobe village containing not an ounce of gold. The search bankrupted Coronado, and he died within two years of returning from it.