The plot thickens surrounding Tinkler’s mysterious buyers
Cibola Capital, a so-called UAE private investment group, has supposedly bought Nathan Tinkler's Patinack Farm. But freelance writer Kiwa Fisher finds that if you scratch the surface, the tale -- and the sale -- might not hold up to much scrutiny.
After Crikey published a report about the shadowy origins of Cibola Capital, the UAE-based company that is reportedly buying Nathan Tinkler’s Patinack Farm “lock, stock and barrel” and detailed the litany of copyright and trademark infringements and dubious claims the company’s bizarre website contained, the website was taken down. It was replaced last month with a single page, complete with a new company logo, which says only “Cibola Capital is a private family investment office” (pictured below).
Cibola’s sister website, www.csi-investments.com, was also taken down and has been replaced with a similarly simple page saying it is a “private holding company”.
The Australian brothers central to the Cibola mystery, Michael and Steven Dewick, haven’t changed their online profiles, with Michael’s LinkedIn page still listing him as managing director of CSI Investments, and Steven’s Zoominfo profile still lists him as chairman and chief operating officer. The owner of Perth’s Exclusive Backpackers, the address Michael Dewick has registered with ASIC, has never heard of him.
It’s now been well over a month since the sale of the Patinack was announced, but the deal remains unclosed, which has in turn ratcheted up the heat in the troubled tycoon’s Singaporean kitchen. In a Financial Times interview published last month Tinkler claimed to be paying off his debts through asset sales, with the article stating “the stud sale will solve the debt problems” and quoting Tinkler as saying: “I will categorically say there are no racing stables or football teams in my future …”. However, without being paid for Patinack, Tinkler has been unable to close his $150 million purchase of Peabody’s Wilkie Creek coal mine.
Tinkler spoke to The Australian to deny reports in Fairfax Media that the Wilkie Creek deal was in danger of falling over because he had failed to meet key contractual obligations imposed by the deal’s part-financier, New York investment bank Jeffries. In that report he admitted the two deals were connected and that the slow sale of Patinack had caused him “a little bit of grief” but added “we have put something else in place”. The Australian’s article also repeated the assertion that Qatari royal Sheikh Fahad al-Thani, owner of Melbourne Cup hero Dunaden, was part of Cibola’s “consortium”, which Crikey understands is not the case.
Adding to Tinkler’s woes, Fairfax Media has reported that retail magnate Gerry Harvey, who is owed a reported $27 million dollars by Tinkler and who has a caveat over Patinack Farm and its assets, is growing impatient for repayment of his loans and considering his options — which include selling off Patinack’s equine assets at his Magic Millions thoroughbred sales company. The Fairfax article also includes comments from a “man claiming to be Cibola chief Daniel Kenny” in which he advises that Cibola “started life in Dubai 10 years ago” and that the company “operate[s] over here as a private investment group”. It is therefore surprising that a search of the UAE’s Ministry of Economy’s website indicates that the business names Cibola Capital, CSI Investments and Corporate Services International Investments are all available to be registered in the Emirates.
Even more curious is why a company that “strives to become a leader within the Arab financial sector” would not set itself up within the Dubai International Financial Centre, the financial free zone or “city within a city” located in Dubai, whose website (www.difc.ae) bills itself as “The Gateway for Capital and Investment” and details, “The quality and range of DIFC’s independent regulation, common law framework, supportive infrastructure and its tax-friendly regime make it the perfect base to take advantage of the region’s rapidly growing demand for financial and business services”. It is very hard to imagine a legitimate Middle Eastern investment company choosing to forego the many benefits of setting up within the DIFC, which include a 0% tax rate on income and profits and no restrictions on foreign ownership, but a search of the DIFC’s client list shows that neither Cibola or CSI Investments have taken advantage of this.
Cibola Capital has not responded or provided answers to 38 questions sent to their contact email address on June 25. Nathan Tinkler has been contacted for this article but has refused to comment.