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Real Estate Industry

August 5th 2005

THE BANGARU FRAUD

His Stitched List put him on the Rich List.


UPDATE from Neil Jenman: April 27, 2006. Kovelan Bangaru has resurfaced in California. He is using the name Kole Bugari.

He appears to have set up an almost identical scheme to the one he used in Australia - ie borrow against the equity in your home, give the money to Kovelan or Kole (or whatever name he uses) and he will "personally guarantee" a great return from investing in property.

With the money he collects, he buys flashy toys which enables him to pretend to be rich which enables him to hook more victims. Eventually, he steals the money and vanishes.

It appears that he is aware that his Australian victims are on to him; his website (which uses the same logos as he used in Australia) has been taken down (I saved a copy if anyone is interested). The phone (0011 1 714 277 4335) is answered with a recorded message during business hours.

Meanwhile, back in Australia, Bangaru's victims are still bleeding.


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by Neil Jenman

If you travel the Sydney motorways, you may see Kim the toll collector.

Kim's one of those people you instantly like. Her face may be weary but her smile is always warm.

Despite problems from breast cancer to financial struggles, Kim's not one to moan. Unless she's pressed, in which case tears flow as she talks about how she might lose her family home.

Last year, Kim and her partner, Joe, met a man called Kovelan Bangaru (pronounced like Kangaroo except with a B) who ran a company called Streetwise (later called Colosseum).

Bangaru had a deal for Kim. It was a JV (Joint Venture) and it was so simple Kim's home in Castle Hill was worth around $600,000. Her home loan balance was $50,000. Bangaru arranged for Kim to borrow a further $416,000 (the maximum allowed) from a finance company called Tonto.

There was no way that Kim, on her wages, could afford to meet the repayments of almost $3,000 a month on a debt of almost half a million dollars.

But the loan from Tonto was one of those close-the-eyes and say-nothing deals, known as a 'Low-Doc Loan'.

All Kim had to say was that she was capable of making the repayments. But Bangaru promised to make the repayments because he was using the money for one of his property projects.

It was so easy. And so deadly.

For a few months, Kim and her partner lived life as normal.

And then, a few weeks ago, Kovelan Bangaru missed a payment.

That night, Kim and Joe went to dinner. They sat in silence and pushed the food around on their plates as they realised the enormity of what they had done.

If Bangaru didn't pay Tonto, then Tonto would ask Kim to pay. On her wages, that's impossible. Tonto could take her home.

Kim and Joe are not the only people to borrow money from Tonto and hand it to Bangaru.

With a Mercedes Maybach costing more than a million dollars, a Bentley, a Porsche, a BMW, plus two apartments worth (according to Bangaru) upwards of $30 million, he needed lots of people from whom he could extract lots of money.

And he found them, everyone from battlers like Kim and Joe to sports stars like Brett and Shane Lee. He convinced them all that investing with him and his company was safe and secure.

After all, he was featured on the BRW Rich List and, according to him, he had been given a thorough check by the corporate regulator, ASIC.

Bangaru had a virtual green-light to create his own stitched list, ripping tens of millions of dollars from his victims.

When things started to unwind, Kovelan Bangaru went underground. He refused to return calls, he changed his mobile number and he moved from house-to-house, protected by his cohorts fellow director, Trevor Downs and accountant Phil Cohen.

For weeks, no one could get to Bangaru.

Until Paul Barry, the renowned investigative reporter, set out to find him. Barry was determined to tie-this-Bangaroo-down-sport.

And indeed he did.

On Sunday night (August 7), on Channel Nine's 60 Minutes, Paul Barry told the story of Kovelan Bangaru.

It's not just a tale of a crooked property tycoon and his trusting victims, it's a scandalous example of how easy it is to get away with fraud in Australia today.

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