Bill Vlahos-Punters Club, Ponzi Scheme or SCAM?
How the hell was this allowed to get to this stage? was it greed, tax evasion, big noting, the feeling of being on the inner? More news unravels every day but we are talking about up to 500 million dollars that appears to of disappeared in to thin air.
Allegations of setting up his own assault and torching of his car, which happened to contain the only known documentation of the clubs records to high flyers, footballers, coppers, silks, ex jockeys and mums and dads taking out loans being sucked in, to bikie types who are not too happy about their chosen money laundering scheme going bust.
This is the biggest story going around, all revolving around the so called Sport of Kings.
A round-up of all the latest articles
Bill Vlahos’ laptop with details of missing
$194m in fire-bombed car, court hears
December 12, 2013
A laptop computer belonging to racing identity Bill Vlahos, which could reveal the whereabouts of $194 million linked to a stricken punters’ club, was destroyed when his car was firebombed, a court has heard.
Police investigate after the attack on Bill Vlahos’s car.
Mr Vlahos’ punting club, The Edge, has collapsed and various investors, including a syndicate called Aloga, are clamouring to have their money returned.
A meeting of members of The Edge on Sunday was told that more than 1000 people could be affected by the implosion of the scheme.
Sources told Fairfax Media paper losses run up by members of The Edge could reach $500 million.
In the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday, Robert Dick, SC, for Aloga, said Mr Vlahos had been ordered to produce his laptop on Tuesday.
But Mr Dick has since been told that the laptop was inside the car that was “blown up or set alight” at Mr Vlahos’ property at Connewarre, south-west of Melbourne, on Sunday evening.
Mr Vlahos was allegedly assaulted and was treated at the scene for minor injuries.
Mr Dick said the explanation was akin to “the dog ate my homework” and said the material on the computer could possibly be accessed by other means, such as through Mr Vlahos’ internet service provider.
David Studdy, SC, for Mr Vlahos, said he would no longer be acting for Mr Vlahos. The racing identity has also parted ways with his solicitors.
On Friday, Mr Vlahos told the court an account containing $194 million he claimed he held with Westpac did not, according to the bank, exist.
Mr Vlahos said he only realised the money was missing the previous day, as his Dubai-based business partner, Daniel Maxwell, had been dealing with Westpac.
He said he accessed the account via a toggle on his laptop using an ID number and an automated eight-digit code that changed upon each login.
Justice Michael Slattery continued an order freezing more than $26 million of Mr Vlahos’s assets. He is also prohibited from leaving the country.
The matter will return to court on December 20.
Bill Vlahos syndicate loses its edge, and punters may lose $500 million
December 11, 2013
Patrick Bartley, Ben Butler
October was the month it all went wrong at Bill Vlahos’ punting club, The Edge.
Money had been flowing out of the myriad syndicates that make up The Edge since January, after the club declared a bumper result.
With their balances swelled by more than 100 per cent after several years in the club, some punters decided their nest eggs were now big enough to raid and took cash out to buy properties or invest elsewhere.
Belief in the strength of the club was so high that some syndicate leaders paid people out of their own pockets, confident The Edge would make good.
But by July, the cash outflow had begun to strain the club’s resources, leading to a slowdown in payments.
Jimmy, Black Caviar’s brother, was bought by BC3 for $5 million at the Easter Yearling Sales.
”This year, after they bought the yearling, it turned ugly,” a punter said, in reference to Mr Vlahos’ purchase for $5 million of Black Caviar’s brother. In early October, Mr Vlahos moved to wind up the club, promising to return punters all their money. He hired top-tier law firm King & Wood Mallesons to oversee the process.
While the firm accepted the job, writing letters on Mr Vlahos’ behalf, it lasted only three weeks before handing the task back to Mr Vlahos.
Mr Vlahos blamed delays in paying the money back on difficulties getting his mysterious
Dubai-based partner, Daniel Maxwell, to sign off on a joint bank account.
The account supposedly held between 15 per cent and 20 per cent of the punting club’s cash, lodged as collateral on an overseas betting account. As late as last week, a Yarrawonga
Syndicate was still trying to pour more money into The Edge, passing the hat around in a bid to raise $20 million.
The scale of The Edge has caught even its participants by surprise. Syndicates within the club were not aware of each other’s’ existence.
And for a large number of The Edge’s participants, the bets were irrelevant. All they saw was the promise of handsome returns ranging from 21 per cent to 46 per cent every three months.
They never received any paperwork to validate their investment, club members who logged
on to secure websites were greeted with official-looking financial statements showing healthy balances.
While it was understood within the club that there was $200 million available to lay bets, the amount members believed they had accumulated could be as high as $500 million.
All that seems gone now.
Bill Vlahos tells court he is devastated by disappearance of $194 million from punters’ club
Stephen Drill, Nathan Klein and Andrew Rule
December 06, 2013
PROMINENT Melbourne racing identity Bill Vlahos has told a court he is “shocked and devastated” that almost $200 million has disappeared from his punters’ club.
The Herald Sun understands several high-profile members of the club, including former
Melbourne Demons president Don McLardy, have lost money in the scheme.
Mr Vlahos, 44, on Friday told a Sydney court he “regularly” checked a joint Westpac account that he opened six years ago with friend and colleague Daniel Maxwell, who now resides in Dubai.
He said the account, which he accessed online, was used as a hub for funds earned through his punting club.
Mr Vlahos told the NSW Supreme Court he had checked the account on Wednesday and could not see any problems with it, before being told the account – which had more than $194 million in it – no longer existed.
“I was shocked and devastated, and I didn’t believe it at first, because I’ve been accessing it from my laptop,” he said.
“I’m worried about everyone’s funds in the account, including mine, which was a substantial amount. Shocked is an understatement. I’m very upset.”
The court was told the account could only be accessed with an ID number and an automated eight-digit code from both Mr Vlahos and Mr Maxwell that changed upon each login.
It is understood some of the members of the club had more than $1 million invested in the scheme, which claimed to provide returns of more than 25 per cent a year.
There could be several hundred members of the club – including senior people from the AFL, the media, the building industry and retail worlds.
The main 20 members drafted in others, who in turn brought in more members.
Outside the court, Mr Vlahos said he had invested heavily in the punting club and BC3
Thoroughbreds and was yet to pay off a mortgage for a Torquay property.
The revelation of missing funds came after Mr Vlahos, who bought Black Caviar’s half- brother and a stake in a horse linked to the Mokbels, told members of his club he was closing the doors following their concern over payment delays.
Mr Vlahos told the Herald Sun last week the members would be paid within two weeks. But on Friday he told the court he had “no idea” where the money could be.
“I haven’t contacted Westpac yet to confirm whether this is true,” he said.
“I spoke to (Mr Maxwell) yesterday. I was pretty emotional and angry and asked him to prove the account existed.
“He said he would talk to his contact at the bank and that it did exist, and now I haven’t heard from him since.
“I think the next step is going to the police to ascertain what’s going on, as well as dealing with Westpac.”
It is understood the court case was brought by disgruntled punters club members. Mr Vlahos will return to court next week.
Crims, outlaw bikies linked to punters club
December 13, 2013
Patrick Bartley, Ben Butler, Louise Hall and Hannah Low
The failed punting club run by racing identity Bill Vlahos was used to launder the proceeds of crime, sources say.
It is believed outlaw motorcycle gangs and other criminal elements were among investors in the $500 million club.
Fairfax Media understands one bikie gang laundered tens of millions of dollars over three years.
Court documents show that other investors include former Melbourne Football Club chairman Don McLardy, who pumped at least $168,000 into the scheme.
It is believed Mr McLardy is one of a number of people connected to the Demons to have invested in Mr Vlahos’ scheme.
Bank records released by the NSW Supreme Court show Mr McLardy deposited $118,000 on
January 14 and an additional $50,000 three days later.
More money came from police, real estate agents, restaurateurs and construction industry executives.
In a November 10 email to club members, separately obtained by Fairfax, Mr Vlahos boasted that ”there are two SOGs [special operations group police officers] and I think up to five federal agents in the PC [punting club]”.
NSW Supreme Court documents also indicate that tech entrepreneur turned high-frequency trader Mark Gorton, who invented download software LimeWire, may be among a group of rich Americans who pumped $26 million into the club through Aloga, a company based in tax haven Bermuda.
Fairfax has also learnt that a syndicate of 30 Melbourne business people has $23 million at risk.
One punter said a Hong Kong-based financial adviser had told her to sell or re mortgage her home to invest in the club.
The NSW Supreme Court on Thursday heard Mr Vlahos’ claims – he did not attend in person
- that a laptop containing key data about the finances of the club was destroyed early on Monday morning in a mysterious car fire at the Surf Coast facility of his horse-racing empire, BC3 Thoroughbreds.
However, back-ups of some records may exist at Cheltenham-based Company Tech
Eccentric, which provided Mr Vlahos with hosting services he used.
Robert Dick, SC, representing Aloga, said Mr Vlahos had been ordered to produce his laptop two days earlier.
Mr Dick has since been told that the laptop was inside the car that was ”blown up or set alight” but he treated Mr Vlahos’ evidence so far with the ”upmost suspicion”.
”We don’t necessarily accept that that’s accurate or that the material contained on the computer has been destroyed,” he said.
David Studdy, SC, for Mr Vlahos, said he would no longer be acting for Mr Vlahos. He said Mr Vlahos was interstate and his ”domestic arrangements are challenging because of his safety concerns”.
In his November 10 email to members, Mr Vlahos said he was ”moving where we live every couple of days because people have been in my wife’s face at our house, kicked our door off its hinges and made real threats to hurt me”.
On Friday, Mr Vlahos told the court an account containing $194 million he claimed he held with Westpac did not, according to the bank, exist.
Mr Vlahos said he only realised the money was missing the previous day, as his Dubai-based business partner, Daniel Maxwell, had been dealing with Westpac.
He said he accessed the account via a toggle on his laptop using an ID number and an automated eight-digit code that changed upon each log-in.
Justice Michael Slattery continued an order freezing more than $26 million of Mr Vlahos’ assets. He is also prohibited from leaving the country.
The matter will return to court on December 20.
Crucial computer destroyed in car fire
By Adrian Dunn TVN Thursday, December 12, 2013
Police are investigating an attack at the home of Bill Vlahos.
A laptop computer containing tell-tale information of a punting syndication funds was in a car that was torched on a property owned by former BC3 Thorougbreds chairman Bill Vlahos, a NSW Supreme Court heard today.
Robert Dick, SC, appearing for Aloga Limited, a Bermuda-listed company that is taking legal action over a missing $26 million from a punting syndicate ran by Vlahos.
The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Vlahos was asked to produce his laptop on Tuesday, but Dick was subsequently told that it had been in the ute that was destroyed by fire when Vlahos was allegedly bashed late on Sunday night.
Vlahos told the court last week that the bank account that he had $194 million deposited had mysteriously vanished. He expressed shock and dismay at such a revelation.
He said the only other person with access to the account was Daniel Maxwell, a partner who now allegedly lives in Dubai.
The SMH reported that Dick told the court the excuse offered by Vlahos was akin to “a dog ate my homework”.
The court also heard that David Studdy, QC, and solicitors acting for Vlahos would no longer act on his behalf.
The SMH reported that Justice Michael Slattery ordered Vlahos to appear back in court on
Friday week and ordered the continuation of the freeze on his $26.2 million assets.
Meanwhile, Racing Victoria’s investigative team, headed by Tim Robinson, a former Purana Task Force detective, had completed its two day probe at BC3 Thoroughbred headquarters at Connewarre.
RV General Manager of Integrity Dayle Brown said the investigative team had interviewed Craig Cameron, the BC3 Thoroughbreds CEO, Moore Stephens, the administrators now overseeing the business and staff.
Brown said all horses on the property had been checked by veterinary surgeons.
“We have got all the information we need. We will spend the next couple of days cataloguing the information we have gathered,” Brown said.
The Fraud Squad of Victoria Police have launched an inquiry into the collapsed betting scheme.
Local police are probing allegations made by Vlahos that he was alleged bashed on Sunday night and his ute torched.
Fraud squad probes collapse of Vlahos betting club
December 11, 2013
Patrick Bartley, Ben Butler, Nino Bucci
The fraud squad is investigating the implosion of Bill Vlahos’ gigantic punting club following an assault on the racing identity and a mysterious fire at his Surf Coast property on Monday.
As shock waves from the collapse spread through the racing industry on Tuesday, thoroughbred owners including retail mogul Gerry Harvey moved to seize horses worth millions of dollars they had sold on credit to Mr Vlahos’ BC3 Thoroughbreds, which has also failed.
Fairfax Media has learned that Mr Vlahos’ punting club, The Edge, was hit by a wave of cash withdrawals that started in January, prompting Mr Vlahos to attempt to wind it up in October.
As late as last week, syndicates within the punting club were attempting to raise $20 million to stave off financial disaster.
A court has heard that $194 million has gone missing, but sources say the book value of the loss to punters could be as high as $500 million.
The collapse of Mr Vlahos’ empire also throws into doubt the status of investors who had given him hundreds of thousands of dollars in return for a share in ”Jimmy”, the half-brother of champion mare Black Caviar.
A Victoria Police spokeswoman said fraud squad officers were ”making initial inquiries following reports of fraudulent activity connected to a number of horse racing betting syndicates across Victoria”.
Officers would then determine whether to mount a broader investigation, she said. Detective Senior Constable David Lewis, from Torquay police, said nobody had been interviewed over the bashing and vehicle fire.
He said police were investigating the contents of the Ute, a 2013 Mazda BT50 worth about
$40,000, and forensic testing would help determine the cause of the fire.
There are unconfirmed reports that documents and files relating to the punting club were destroyed in the fire.
Bloodstock agent Inglis on Tuesday repossessed nine horses sold to BC3, and Gerry Harvey’s horse sales business, Magic Millions, seized two high-priced yearling fillies, one by Fastnet Rock sold for $330,000, and Starcraft $320,000.
”Magic Millions will sell the two yearlings as Magic Millions in possession. We are happy with the arrangement with BC3 and we are working comfortably with [BC3 chief executive] Craig Cameron,” Magic Millions managing director Vin Cox said.
However, an additional five horses have been removed from Mr Vlahos’ property by Magic
Millions after a relocation notice was issued.
In a buying spree this year, BC3 nabbed at least $8.1 million worth of yearling horses on credit from Inglis and Magic Millions.
However, it has not paid for more than $6.7 million worth of horses bought from Inglis, including ”Jimmy”, who fetched $5 million earlier this year.
It is believed ”Jimmy”, who has been suffering a severe leg infection, is ready to leave the
Werribee Veterinary Hospital, but it is not clear whether he too will be seized by Inglis.
BC3 administrators Trent Hancock and Michael Hird of Moore Stephens said Mr Vlahos, who resigned from the company following his bashing, was ”no longer involved in the day- to-day operations of the company”.
Creditors are to meet next Thursday.
Leading bookmakers in the dark over Bill
Vlahos’ alleged punting scheme
December 09, 2013 11:00PM
IF Bill Vlahos and his punting scheme was operating in Australia, the big bookmakers had no knowledge of it.
Australia’s two largest bookmakers, Sportingbet and Sportsbet.com.au, confirmed yesterday, to their knowledge, Vlahos had not been a client at any stage over the past four years.
And representatives of both firms (who preferred not to be quoted, which is the norm right now when the Vlahos name is mentioned) doubted bets were ever placed.
Vlahos claimed the bets were being handled by an international colleague and all betting was conducted overseas.
One well-known Melbourne betting figure said yesterday he screamed “Ponzi scheme” as soon as he first heard of it.
“Four years ago a mate rang me to say there was this big betting syndicate operating in
Melbourne run by a syndicator bloke called Bill Vlahos,” he said.
“My mate said, ‘It’s big. They’re sending betting sheets out on a Saturday morning, only for
Melbourne and Sydney, and targeting three or four races in either venue’.
“They would price two, three or four horses in a race. If the horse reached the price, they would have amounts between $10,000 and $50,000 on the horse.
“So I started looking at the ratings, which were actually quite good. If they priced a horse at
$11 and the horse reached that price, then they would back “Knackers” at that price. So they would say they had $40,000 at $11 to win $440,000.
“At the end of the day, they would send out a summary to their investors, saying, ‘We won
$440,000 on Knackers … backed two others in the race and lost $40,000 on them for a net win of $400,000.”
The problem was it would appear the money was never being put on. Had it been, investors would have won anyway because the ratings were so good.
As word spread, the value of Vlahos’s pool grew to staggering amounts, although two racing figures interviewed yesterday said he was particular about who was allowed in.
“Put it this way, if you had any real knowledge of racing, then he didn’t want to know you,” said the punter, who advised his friends to ignore the scheme.
But plenty still got involved, from the white-collar cleanskins to the seedier side of life.
The Vlahos scheme was a perfect vehicle to wash dirty money, although those parties tend to become more irrational when the money dries up.
Some of those who invested early are said to have been smart enough at least to withdraw their dividends and fund some lavish annual holidays.
Those a little greedier decided to leave both their principal and dividends with Vlahos, much to their chagrin.
Punters club brings out sad tales big and small
ANDREW RULE Herald Sun December 10, 2013
THE “punters club” promoted by Bill Vlahos has brought back memories in racing circles of the rapid rise and fatal fall of supposed share market “guru” Mike Bastion in the late 1990s.
Bastion fell – or was pushed – from a sixth-floor ledge in Hong Kong in 2000, just as he was to be exposed for running a $35 million “Ponzi” scheme that had drawn most of its money from big names on and off the track.
Among his victims were leading trainers and, it is said, a former national political leader. But it also included relatively little people – those who put in $20,000 they couldn’t afford, alongside those who put in a hundred times that amount.
No one is publicly calling the Vlahos betting scheme a Ponzi, but one similarity it has with
Bastion’s disastrous scam is that it has attracted everyone from pensioners to the penthouse.
“Ian” contacted this reporter yesterday with a sad story of being persuaded over several months to invest the only money he had — $10,000 – in the scheme.
At first he was sceptical, he says, but two work colleagues boasted to him how much they had supposedly made, so he fell in. One was a betting scheme “group leader” he calls “Ray”.
Now, he says, he’s angry with himself and with those who promoted the scheme to him and others.
“I valued their judgment and was impressed by the longevity of the club and of the type of people involved from the first instance,” he wrote.
Cracks started to appear on July 13, he says. Since then he has grown increasingly disturbed by the string of evasive and barely credible messages received from the scheme’s promoters.
“My investment of $10,000 … is a very large amount of money to me and will have a long- term impact. I sourced the money by cashing in my long service leave. Now I have neither.
“The timing is also devastating, being so close to Christmas.
It’s not all about big-time investors; there are many working class people involved including me and my two colleagues.”
“I have no savings (now), I have no investments, I have a modest house with a mortgage at aged 58 – I have 40 continuous years of honest work and sadly not a lot to show for it.”
Then there is “Col”, who approached a respected bloodstock expert in a city restaurant two weeks ago to ask his opinion about the scheme.
He showed the racing man a string of emails from Vlahos making excuses about why he could not pay back any of the $100,000 he had “invested”.
He admitted that he had been pleased to “win” $25,000 which was sent to him that he left his money in the scheme – and actively recruited two more people to join it.
As the bloodstock man said later: “They target blokes who spread the word, turn them into a
‘honeycomb’ by paying them some money to keep them sweet.”
As for BC3 Thoroughbreds? “There’s no real income,” says the bloodstock man, a former manager at a leading stable. “They have hardly sold a horse for any money – and they have a cast of thousands working for it on good salaries. People have been asking for years ‘Where does the money come from?’ I guess now we know.”
Punters’ club cash clues up in smoke
racing identity Bill Vlahos’ PC destroyed in car firebombing
The Daily Telegraph December 13, 2013
IT holds the key to the whereabouts of $194 million of punters’ cash – some of which is the life savings of ordinary Australians.
But the laptop computer and dongle of racing identity Bill Vlahos are nothing more than ash after a court confirmed they were destroyed when his car was firebombed just two days before Mr Vlahos was ordered to hand over both items to authorities.
In the NSW Supreme Court yesterday Robert Dick SC, acting for investors Aloga – which is seeking to recover some of $25 million it claims to have lost in the collapse of Mr Vlahos’ secretive punters club, The Edge – said the circumstances of the firebombing were suspicious at best.
Aloga’s legal team had applied to have the laptop and internet dongle tendered as evidence, given Mr Vlahos’ claim he used the gear to access his accounts.
“We treat with the utmost suspicion anything Mr Vlahos says,” Mr Dick said.
AFL footballers, police, a coterie of well-known identities and small business owners are believed to have been caught up in the collapse of The Edge, a punters club that promised annual returns in excess of 25 per cent to investors.
The club would pool the money and would reportedly bet with Mr Vlahos’s mathematical formulas on a range of horse races in Sydney and Melbourne, allegedly using offshore bookies.
When some investors, including Aloga, began asking for their money back this year, Mr Vlahos promised to release the funds, but never did. He instead sent screen shots from a Westpac account proving the money existed, which at times showed a balance of $170 million.
Last week, Mr Vlahos admitted the money had disappeared, after Westpac confirmed that no such account ever existed.
NAB statements tendered to court show a steady stream of money being poured into an account linked to Mr Vlahos from investors, including individuals, businesses and even two Victorian police co-ops.
While the majority of the money was transferred to an un-named account, the statement shows payments to credit cards, a phone bill and even a Melbourne road toll. There were also two large deposits, worth several hundred thousand dollars, into an un-named account, but earmarked for “home renos”.
Victorian Police are investigating last Sunday night’s firebombing of Mr Vlahos’ car.
He told police he was also bashed by two men, but told one witness it was three Lebanese men, before allegedly telling another witness it was two “Yugoslavs”.
Racing identity Bill Vlahos bashed, car set on fire at his Connewarre property
STEPHEN DRILL, ERIN PEARSON, ANDREW RULE Herald Sun
December 09, 2013 4:13PM
RACING identity Bill Vlahos has been bashed and a car torched at his property just days after he admitted to losing $194 million in a punting club.
Neighbours rushed to help Mr Vlahos as he lay bleeding on the nature strip of the
Connewarre property, Grace Park, about 8.10pm on last night.
A neighbour today told of arriving at the scene shortly after the incident to find the ute fully engulfed in flames and Mr Vlahos with bruises on his face and blood on his shirt
“I’d just woken up because I’d been asleep before I went on night shift. (My daughter) yelled out `mum there’s all this black smoke’,” the neighbour said.
“He was just lying on the nature strip out the front of the house he was conscious but in shock.
“It was full on. Usually it’s a pretty quiet area, no one knows where Connewarre is.”
Ambulance Victoria has confirmed the injured man refused transport to hospital.
“Police are investigating an assault and car fire in Connewarre last night,” Victoria Police spokeswoman Belle Nolan said in a statement.
“It is believed a Torquay man was assaulted at a property on Randles Road around 8.10pm and his vehicle was subsequently set alight.
“The man sustained minor injuries during the incident. At this stage no one is in custody and the investigation into the incident is ongoing. “
There was at least 20 but potentially hundreds of people in Mr Vlahos’ punting club, which promised returns of more than 25 per cent a year.
Some members are now considering legal action after Mr Vlahos admitted in a Sydney court last week the account where he had been putting the funds for six years did not exist.
They are now out of pocket and the Herald Sun understands there were no receipts given in the club, which was based on trust.
Mr Vlahos told the Herald Sun last week before his court case that he would pay all his members within two weeks.
He did not respond to the Herald Sun this morning.
It’s understood that Mr Vlahos’s company BC3 Thoroughbreds is on the verge of being wound up, with staff told it was going to shut down.
Calls to BC3 this morning have not been returned.
Racing identity Bill Vlahos’ emails reveal fear of attack, and warn of club collapse
December 12, 2013
Patrick Bartley, Ben Butler
The stricken punting club overseen by racing identity Bill Vlahos has been having difficulty paying out winners since at least mid-January, emails obtained by Fairfax Media reveal.
A series of emails sent by Mr Vlahos show the club boss saying he feared physical violence and action from regulators as The Edge became increasingly untenable through 2013.
Documents obtained by Fairfax Media also show Mr Vlahos attempted to borrow hundreds of millions in August and September to refinance his empire.
Victoria Police fraud squad detectives have mounted a large scale investigation following an assault on Mr Vlahos at his BC3 Thoroughbreds property in Torquay, and a fire that destroyed a Ute.
While a court heard $194 million was at risk, paper losses run up by members of The Edge could reach $500 million.
Mr Vlahos told club members financial cracks had emerged in a January 18 email, sent after the club declared a bumper return of 46 per cent for the three months to the end of 2012.
”Unfortunately big mouths have made it hard for us again,” Mr Vlahos said.
He said that due to leaks he had kicked a number of syndicates out of the club.
”The bottom line is that we seem to be in no position to continue with the punting club,” he said.
He said transfers of money to club members had been slower than expected ”as I have had to move on larger groups”. Other emails show that from February onwards, Mr Vlahos claimed to have difficulty putting bets on races.
Mr Vlahos again apologised for slow withdrawals in an April 28 email, blaming Anzac Day for the delay.
However, he said he had ”been inundated by requests to ‘do anything to keep the club going”’. In August, PLG Capital Funding Group, of Michigan, agreed to lend Mr Vlahos a large sum
of money, believed to be $US178 million. It is not known whether he received the money.
In September Mr Vlahos unsuccessfully tried to borrow $24 million from New Zealand real estate agent Tony Vining.
By November 20, Mr Vlahos had reached boiling point. ”I WANT THIS TO BE OVER,” he told club members in an emotional email.
”I can’t yell this any louder,” he said. He attempted to reassure ”those that think I have stolen, lost or am planning to take the money”.
”All I want is for people to get their money.”
Racing Victoria officials already shut down one BC3 racing club last year
Matt Stewart Herald Sun December 11, 2013
RACING Victoria attempted unsuccessfully to rein in BC3 in February 2012, when it interviewed Bill Vlahos over concerns with the syndicate.
Racing Victoria had been warned four years ago by a prominent legal figure that BC3′s
Punting syndicate was a rort.
It is unclear if that tip off was acted upon at the time but RVL has since said it has no jurisdiction over a punting club.
But RVL did ask Vlahos for an explanation of BC3 Racing Club, a 33-member syndicate.
The syndicate did not possess a dealer’s licence or a trust fund, which are demanded of
industry endorsed syndicates.
There have been a handful of racing “clubs” over the years, attracting large numbers of small
Investors to race a number of horses, with an initial outlay covering up to three years of costs.
Most clubs do not deliver prize money back to owners. Prize money earned by the horses is injected into future purchases. Earnings from the club also pay wages and expenses for club directors.
These clubs, such as Gai Waterhouse’s Living The Dream, must provide ASIC with a
Prospectus, something the BC3 Racing Club lacked.
Following the meeting with senior RVL management BC3 discontinued the BC3 Racing
Club and removed advertising from various racing publications.
BC3 also made changes to its website advertising regarding shares and costs around horses for sale.
RVL did not demand BC3 gain an AFSL licence from ASIC, so long as BC3 agreed to make changes to the marketing and sale of its horses.
One leading syndicator said this week that BC3 existed under different rules than most.
Racing Victoria head of integrity Dayle Brown said the BC3 experience could provide lessons for RVL and the requirements on racing syndicates.
Brown said investigations into the dealings of BC3 “remain ongoing.”
“If our investigation determines that there are learnings to be made regarding racehorse ownership, including syndications, then we will consider them at the time and discuss with ASIC as required,” Brown said.
Brown said the RVL investigation would seek to determine if there was anything untoward in the operation of the business.
Racing Victoria ‘warned’ about punting club
Andrew Rule Sunday Herald Sun December 07, 2013
EXCLUSIVE: RACING authorities ignored warnings four years ago about a so-called
“Punting club” that has allegedly lost $194 million of syndicate members’ funds.
Racing sources have told the Herald Sun industry people were so convinced that Bill Vlahos’s betting syndicate was dangerous they approached Racing Victoria integrity department chief Dayle Brown.
“They warned Brown in detail,” a source said.
“At that stage the syndicate they called ‘The Edge’ supposedly had more than $40 million – but without a prospectus or anything.
“We said to pull him (Vlahos) in and check the bank accounts to see if investors’ money was there.”
The scheme might even breach rules that prohibits owners or licensed persons from conducting themselves in a manner prejudicial to racing’s interests, the source said.
The evidence also suggested police could investigate or civil action be taken.
The Sunday Herald Sun spoke to high profile sporting identities thought to have lost money. All denied investing with Vlahos.
Mr Vlahos is chairman of BC3 Thoroughbreds, which has invested tens of millions in bloodstock, including Black Caviar’s troubled half-brother “Jimmy”, the $5 million colt recovering from a life-threatening illness.
But Racing Victoria did nothing to protect investors the source said. “It was impossible for this (betting) scheme to work,” the source said.
“Anyone who understands wagering in Australia knew it couldn’t be done – especially if you supposedly win every week. If you win every week, people (bookmakers) simply won’t bet you. You cannot bet in those amounts if you win.”
But Mr Brown said he was made aware of allegations about the racing syndicate in the past week.
“It hasn’t been on our radar before that,” he said.
The revelation racing authorities ignored warnings follows Vlahos’s extraordinary claim in court on Friday that $194 million he thought was in a Westpac account had vanished.
Westpac says the account does not exist, raising doubts about the whereabouts – or existence – of the funds.
The court action was launched by a Bahamas-based company called Aloga, allegedly owed
The potential fallout from the presumed collapse of the Vlahos betting “empire” extends to BC3 Thoroughbreds, which reportedly owes bloodstock agents Inglis millions of dollars for Black Caviar’s half-brother.
The good news for those who have invested in BC3 Thoroughbreds’ horse operation is that Jimmy’s older sister, Belle Couture, won a trial at Flemington on Friday and will debut soon. The troubled company’s smart galloper Nordic Empire won a city race last week.
Retail king Gerry Harvey seeking details of
Bill Vlahov’s horse deals
RON REED Herald Sun
December 10, 2013 10:02PM
AUSTRALIA’S biggest racehorse owner, Sydney retailer Gerry Harvey, is among those waiting to see how controversial punting club manager Bill Vlahos’s financial travails play out.
Gerry Harvey is waiting to see how the Bill Vlahos fallout pans out.
The Harvey Norman household goods tycoon is not involved in Vlahos’s mysterious and
Now-infamous betting business known as The Edge_ and finds it strange that so many people would be _ but he says his Magic Millions Company is owed money for horses.
Through his own company BC3 Thoroughbreds Vlahos had bought and sold horses through
Magic Millions, Harvey said yesterday.
“I have to get to the bottom of how much he owes us, what we might be able to recover, what we might have to write off _ I don’t know,” he said.
“I am waiting for that information from the bloke who runs (Magic Millions) _ he is on his way back from overseas.”
Harvey said Vlahos “just suddenly appeared, a new bloke who wanted to change the face of the horse industry” about five years ago.
“He met me and others at Magic Millions, gave us his ideas about how we might work together, and we talked to him as we would talk to anyone,” he said.
“We saw him emerge with BC Thoroughbreds and he bought and sold horses through us, which was all fine.
“But we never decided to go into business with him and I have had no other contact with him, no conversation other than to say ‘g’day mate’ when I pass him at a horse sale.”
Harvey categorically denied a rumour that Vlahos had asked him for $5 million to help pay for the horse known as Jimmy, a half-brother to Black Caviar.
Like everyone else in racing, Harvey is bemused by reports that hundreds of members of the punting club have lost $194 million.
“It sounds like an extraordinarily high amount of money,” said the billionaire businessman.
“Most people don’t just give their money to someone _ it’s very hard to get just a couple of
Grand to bet on racehorses.
“What sort of people do that? It’s very strange. I don’t know what’s going on.”
Simon Marshall says it will be hard to bounce back from BC3 collapse
December 12, 2013 10:30PM
THE face of BC3 Thoroughbreds Simon Marshall yesterday said he was shattered by the spectacular collapse of the once high-flying outfit.
Simon Marshall and Bill Vlahos after BC3 bought Jimmy for $5 million at the Easter Yearling Sales.
Marshall had been part of the BC3 team for five years, as key adviser to company founder and now ex-chairman Bill Vlahos.
It is unclear if Marshall invested in Vlahos’ $200m gambling syndicate.
Asked if he had, Marshall said: “It’s going to be hard to bounce back from this one.” “I put my heart and soul into this business for five years. I’m shattered.”
Marshall and Craig Cameron, the BC3 chief executive since March, have been left to sort out the mess Vlahos left in his wake.
They are busier than ever. There are no race meetings, just meetings with creditors and administrators.
Marshall, a former star jockey, used to put himself through physical and mental torture to ride at a competitive weight.
To shed that last kilogram he would go for long runs wrapped in garbage bags on hot days. He would crawl out of steam rooms and eat fresh air for dinner.
Yet Marshall would gladly swap his former daily woes for the one that has now engulfed him.
Marshall described Cameron as “a star” and described his wife Sally the same way.
Marshall said the collapse of BC3 had had a disastrous impact on his working and private life but said Sally had been stoic and supportive.
“It’s fair to say this thing has affected me in more ways than one,” he said.
Marshall yesterday clung to the few remaining positives of BC3. Almost defiantly, he said neither he nor Cameron “are hiding from anything”.
“We’re not running away, we just have to bat on the best we can. We are workers, we’ve got no option but to face up to what’s ahead and get on with it,” he said.
Marshall said the staff and the basic business model were worth fighting for.
“There are a lot of good people here at BC3,” he said.
“We’ve had a lot of successes, a lot of good horses and a lot of good will with clients. We’ve had a lot of well-wishers and a lot of inspiration to try and rekindle something of what’s left. Somewhere down the track we know the model can work.”
Marshall said one of his great regrets was losing touch with Jimmy, the courageous young horse who has been an intriguing sub-plot of the disastrous BC3 story.
Had the pleasure of visiting Jimmy today – his spirits are high and his cheekiness is refreshing-slowly but surely he’s fighting this battle
Simon Marshall (@simonmarshall33) December 3, 2013
Jimmy is no longer BC3 property, soon to be reclaimed by sales company Inglis.
Jimmy, the $5 million half-brother to Black Caviar, has clawed his way back from near death
- the opposite story to BC3 – at a vet clinic in Werribee.
“I’ve got to focus on getting this business back on track with Cameron and can’t spend time with Jimmy,” Marshall said.
“But that horse is a freak, an amazing animal. My hope one day is that Jimmy might come out of all this one day and make it to the racetrack. I haven’t given up on that hope.”
Syndicate leaders of Bill Vlahos’s ‘The Edge’ punters club to meet over losses
Stephen Drill, Andrew Rule
December 11, 2013 7:37PM
SYNDICATE leaders of a controversial punters’ club are holding a crisis meeting as it emerged that an international loan may be linked to $200 million of losses.
Police Chief Commissioner Ken Lay said there was now a “full blown investigation” into
“The Edge” punters’ club run by colourful racing identity Bill Vlahos, which lost at least $194 million.
Mr Vlahos will appear in the NSW Supreme Court on Thursday as he continues to battle with
Aloga, a company that claims it is owed $26 million from the club. His passport has been surrendered as part of the court proceedings.
The hearings will focus on the balances of Westpac accounts that Mr Vlahos claimed in court were linked to Dubai-based punter Daniel Maxwell.
Mr Vlahos claimed the accounts had $194 million until he checked last week and found they did not exist.
The Herald Sun understands Mr Vlahos tried to get a $US175 million loan this year in order to buy a horse stables in America.
Mr Vlahos has told agents in both countries – and people he owes money over his racing schemes – that he has arranged to get the funds from obscure third-tier lender PLG Capital in Michigan, which describes itself as a “diamond in the rough in the world of financial services.”
The similarity between the proposed American “loan” and the sum Mr Vlahos claims is missing in Australia has concerned several people with whom he has tried to do business.
It was unclear whether the loan was linked to international transfers of money from the punters’ club funds.
Mr Vlahos sent BC3 Thoroughbreds chief executive Craig Cameron and bloodstock adviser Simon Marshall to Kentucky to inspect the prestigious Vinery Stud in July, but could not raise the deposit to buy the $US14 million property.
Punters’ club syndicate members said before Wednesday night’s meeting that they were upset at losing the money that family and friends had invested in the club on the basis of claimed returns of more than 25 per cent a year.
A syndicate leader said that there had been $110 million in a NAB bank account in June, and they were chasing that money.
The leader said there were at least 20 main syndicate leaders and possibly another 30 sub- leaders.
A former 300-game player at the Avondale Heights Football Club was among the leaders. The Herald Sun understands current players or members are not in the syndicate.
The former player’s syndicate was to meet in a secret location in Richmond on Wednesday night.
Chief Commissioner Lay told 3AW he was aware of reports that police were members of the syndicate but he did not know who they were.
He said that it would be investigated.
“This is a fairly dynamic investigation. There are things happening on an almost daily basis,” he said.
“We have had a complaint, so it will now be a full-blown investigation. We will just work our way through what I think will be a fairly complex investigation.”
It has emerged that as recently as six weeks ago, Mr Vlahos returned to Australia from several months in Singapore to inspect multi-million-dollar properties in the eastern states, saying price was no object.
This was despite BC3′s having not yet paid for the $5 million half-brother to Black Caviar. Kenneth Stanton, a lawyer for the syndicate leaders, declined to comment.
Tale of punting club’s American connection
December 11, 2013 7:30PM
IT seems clear what Bill Vlahos intended to do – set up as a global bloodstock breeder, using money seemingly from an obscure American lender.
Last July, he sent people to inspect a grand Kentucky horse stud.
It seemed the wealthy Aussie was busting to stake a claim in the bluegrass breeding country. Why else fly people all that way to inspect Vinery Stud, asking price $US14 million?
Vlahos was looking to set up the American end of a breeding operation with equally impressive premises in Australia.
Sadly, there was a last-minute hitch: the $US175 million funds he’d negotiated had not come through yet, he explained.
But after spending the next few months in a superior Singapore hotel the man behind BC3
Thoroughbreds and its secretive sibling, “The Edge” punting club, came home to inspect more prestige properties.
Inglis Bloodstock chiefs were pleased to show him around. Price was no object for the right place, Vlahos assured them.
This was good news for Inglis, as BC3 Thoroughbreds still owed the firm $5 million for
Black Caviar’s half-brother.
At that point it hadn’t been revealed that the $5 million colt was not very fast, not very sound, and about to suffer a “spider bite” that would abort his racing career, if not end his life.
It seemed to Inglis it was just a matter of the promised $175 million coming through. What Inglis and many others didn’t know was that cracks had already appeared in the “punting club” that supported the buying and racing of expensive horseflesh.
Last March, an “investor” asked to withdraw $14 million from the fat funds everyone thought existed because of quarterly statements indicating how much their “investment” had grown.
Oddly, the guru with the infallible system fobbed off the request with lame excuses.
Soon after, another member wanted $10,000 of his cash to buy an engagement ring – and couldn’t get it. Uh oh.
Again, Vlahos spoke of waiting for a $US175 million dollar “loan”.
It wasn’t until last week, when he appeared in court and claimed $A194 million had vanished, that some started to compare the rather similar sums.
And started to wonder about two things …
Could the missing money boomerang to Australia as a loan? And why would PLG Capital of
Michigan lend an Australian punter that sort of money without plenty of security?
Vlahos gets police ‘please explain’ over bashing and missing $194m
December 11, 2013 – 7:36PM John Silvester
Crime reporter, The Age
Fraud Squad detectives have invited Bill Vlahos, the head of a massive punting club who was mysteriously bashed at his Surf Coast home on Monday, to explain his involvement in the collapsed scheme.
Vlahos has yet to explain how the money, recorded in court documents as $194 million, has mysteriously disappeared.
The head of the serious crime division, Detective Superintendent Pat Boyle, said the Fraud/Extortion Squad, E-Crime and Criminal Proceeds squads and crime command lawyers and accountants were part of the investigation into the club known as The Edge.
”We are pooling our specialist resources to try to get on top of this.”
Despite some of the investors expressing concerns over the scheme as early as January, police were first approached by a syndicate spokesman representing about 20 punters on Monday.
Police have yet to establish the size of the loss, the number of potential victims or if a crime has been committed.
”We want people involved to gather all documents, including e-mails, bank statements and any correspondence with the group, which may later become evidence,” Detective Superintendent Boyle said.
He said it appeared the investors in the scheme were broken into smaller clubs of friends and associates.
”We want one person representing each of these syndicates to come forward and slowly but surely we will approach each individual person,” he said.
Police are carrying out threat assessments on Vlahos and front men involved in the scheme to decide if they need protection.
Senior police are concerned that following Monday’s bashing at Vlahos’ Connewarre property, investors may turn to underworld figures or bikies to try to recoup funds.
”We are the ones with the experts who find assets. It would be a mistake for anyone to try to take the law into their own hands,” Detective Superintendent Boyle said.
During the incident at the Connewarre property, a ute was destroyed in a deliberately lit fire. Police are investigating if documents connected with the punting syndicate were also destroyed. Detective Superintendent Boyle said it was an offence to destroy evidence during a police investigation.
Torquay detectives will investigate if Vlahos was bashed as a payback or if it was a ruse to cover the destruction of evidence. They believe fuel from the property was used to start the fire.
Police asset experts will check on recent improvements to the property to see if funds from
The Edge syndicate were diverted for private use.
Vlahos has yet to say whether he will accept the Fraud Squad’s offer to come in to explain the missing millions.
Will the real Bill Vlahos please stand up?
From: Herald Sun
December 13, 2013 8:18PM
AS a good chameleon must be, Bill Vlahos can be many things to many people.
Boy from the commission flats made good, accountant who branched into psychology, outside midfielder and handy cricketing all-rounder or in his most recent guise, professional punter with a one in a million system.
Melbourne’s very own Simon the Likeable, a softly-spoken seducer who could look you in the eye and ask, with dripping sincerity, how the wife and children were. Or maybe he was being genuine given the obvious love he displays for his own family, a wife Joanne and two children aged under 10.
Perhaps in the end he became confused as to he actually was. Certainly Simon Marshall, the one-time richly talented Group 1 winning jockey who became the public face of BC3
Thoroughbreds, would like the real Bill Vlahos to stand up.
“To be honest I don’t know who he is. I thought I knew but it’s like your neighbour, you reckon you know them but you never really do,” said Marshall.
“When he first approached me in 2009 I found him to be a breath of fresh air and thought he was just what the industry needed. I didn’t know a lot about him other than he had been a psychologist or something like that.”
Marshall’s plight is now shared by many others for Vlahos has touched many lives, from the suburban Melbourne basketball club that invested a million to the trusting Melbourne racing man who lent him the same amount as recently as early October.
All because of a punting system known as The Edge, one that in Elvis Presley’s words has suddenly become the edge of reality after an amazing five or six years without complaint.
Vlahos, by his own and proud admission was raised in the Prahran Housing Commission flats and never forgot his mates even when he started to rub shoulders with the toffs.
You’ve heard it many times before, the overnight success story who speaks with mock humility about how he crawled out of Struggle Street courtesy of an innate gift. In the case of Vlahos that gift was a self-proclaimed superior mathematical mind, alleged to have been honed at La Trobe University in the late 1980s in a vague degree.
Our very own Pythagoras, one who rose from the obscurity to be outbidding the kings and
Queens of the birth for a younger half-brother to equine royalty Black Caviar.
That he was accepted on the horse racing scene was testament to that industry’s familiarity with new money. They come and they go on the track, all shapes and sizes (think Nathan “The Whale” Tinkler) and all manner of backgrounds, the only stipulation being a fat wallet.
Each and every one are welcomed aboard, even fanatical Collingwood supporters such as Vlahos, and all are wooed in a custom far removed from garden variety everyday life. It’s a drug every bit as addictive as the finest opium poppy from a sunny hillside in Afghanistan.
And Vlahos seems to have caught it badly. Some of his old football mates shook their heads when they suddenly saw him appearing on news services, incredulous that he had outbid a Sheik and some billionaire Irishmen for a four-legged animal.
He had played in the Richmond area and was known as a reasonable player with fair skills, even if not overly hard at the pill. Hardly a crime but enough to prompt one former teammate to wonder aloud this week “about how he would have copped the belting” after Vlahos was allegedly assaulted near Torquay.
From Richmond City he played a season under Greg Ryan at Toora, a hamlet east of Wilsons Promontory that was once known for its timber mill during the gold rush era of the 1800s before recently becoming the site of a wind farm powered by 12 monstrous turbines that sit above the town.
Ryan recalled Vlahos as a bloke that got along with his teammates: “He was an interesting character, from memory he said he worked as an accountant. There was always a bit of something happening,” said Rogers, who thought that Vlahos continued his career with St Kilda City.
But he did remember him as a useful cricketer, something confirmed by well-travelled suburban and country batsman Les Quarrel, a player known for having scored 100 hundreds over a long career.
“He was a correct type of batsman, middle order player who could bowl a bit of medium pace. He got a century for us at Toora in a Grand Final and then I think ended up with Elsternwick in subdistrict,” said Quarrel, who also thought Vlahos had said he was an accountant.
So from accountancy to psychology, the latter being supported by plaques that adorned his BC3 office. According to one person who saw plenty of Vlahos in recent times, he was proud of his achievements.
“He was proud and he was a very pleasant bloke to deal with. There was nothing nasty about him in my dealings, and they were extensive,” said the person who remains working in the racing industry.
“People ask me was there any indication the punting scheme might have been going to blow up? Certainly there were enormous amounts of cash when Bill was around and a lot of matters were paid for in cash which is unusual in this day and age.
“If you went out with him he always offered to pay and his wife Joanne was absolutely delightful and everyone you ask will say the same about her. And Bill always seemed totally devoted to Joanne and their children.
“But occasionally there were types I would describe as undesirable in Bill’s company.” Another party who was an employee of BC3 Thoroughbreds said in hindsight it was obvious the Punter’s Club had to be funding BC3: “The staff overheads were astronomical and we regularly ran at a monthly loss,” he said.
“But through it all Bill Vlahos was the same, unassuming, quiet, sometimes witty and on the outside normal. He was also an easy touch for some of the users you find in racing, cutting them in on deals he didn’t have to.”
And Vlahos was a deal-maker, or at least wannabe deal-maker. Earlier this year he bobbed up in Singapore, he and his family occupying space in the luxurious Shangri-La, a tasty little weekender rated in the top five hotels in Singapore where there are 300-odd to choose from.
Michael Freedman, youngest brother of the Australian training dynasty and now forging a highly successful career in Singapore, was invited to dinner a few months back with Vlahos and Simon Marshall.
“There was Bill Valhos, Simon Marshall and another BC3 employee whose name I can’t recall. I can remember driving home from the dinner and saying to my wife Anna ‘I have no real idea what that was all about’,” said Freedman, who claimed ‘bemusement’ was an appropriate description of his reaction.
“I found what he (Vlahos) was talking about to be all quite perplexing and decided then I
Didn’t want any more to do with the outfit.”
Vlahos put a different spin on the dinner when interviewed last week by the Herald Sun’s
Stephen Drill, responding to suggestion he had fled Australia.
“I went to Singapore for the second and third terms of the school year to establish a relationship with Michael Freedman. I actually gave him a horse called Let Go Lenni. We weren’t hiding and everyone knew where I was,” said Vlahos.
Reality tells us Let Go Lenni was sent to Freedman by Australian Bloodstock, with BC3
Thoroughbreds owning just 10 per cent of the horse that was trained in Melbourne by Mick Price.
Another case of smoke and mirrors leaving you to ask what is real? Well, he did have a practice as a psychologist in a business titled Stephens/Vlahos in Albert Rd, South Melbourne.
The Stephens is Kim Stephens, best known these days as the Richmond Football Club psychologist. There is no suggestion Stephens was involved in the running of The Edge punting club and he declined to comment when contacted this week.
A former accomplished jockey met ‘the very softly spoken’ Vlahos socially a few times before running into him at a Melbourne racetrack one Saturday.
“I was at the races one day with a mate of mine who is an accountant. We went up to have a bet and Bill Vlahos was coming the other way,” said the jockey.
“I said ‘what are you backing?’ and he said ‘I’m having $2000 on this’. I said fair enough and asked could I have a look at his market. He had the horse a lot, lot shorter than me.
“I asked him how he could get it so short. He said ‘I do this, that, this, that and that’. I asked my mate if he could work it out. He said ‘f. k, it’s beyond me’. Both of us still don’t know what he was talking about.”
Perhaps Vlahos himself provides the best clue as to the chances of success with The Edge, at least long-term. A recent e-mail from him to his members is titled Goodluck@fingerscrossed.com.au, hardly confidence building but seemingly prophetic.
The amount in the account is listed at over $171 million. Two weeks ago another client was shown a statement with $194 million allegedly belonging to The Edge. Real figures? It would seem only Bill Vlahos knows.
Yarrawonga: A quiet town with a code of silence
December 13, 2013 8:00pm
IT is the small country town that is at the epicentre of the secretive punting club that has sent shock waves across the state.
The town of Yarrawonga sits on the picturesque Murray River along the border of Victoria and New South Wales and is home to just over 7,000 people.
It has hit the news in recent days due to a punting syndicate that has lost up to $500 million and left hundreds of people out of pocket.
Since news of “The Edge” club broke last week, locals have been talking of little else in the
pubs and cafés of Belmore St, which runs through the heart of the town.
For such a small close-knit town, news of the clandestine betting club has spread like wildfire.
Many said they had never heard of the club until last week.
Others claim it has been common knowledge for years, but much like the Brad Pitt movie Fight Club, the first rule of the club was that nobody was allowed to talk about it.
It was initially believed up to 600 people from Yarrawonga – roughly 10 per cent of the
town’s population – had been involved.
But those in the know said the real number was closer to about 300 people.
Everybody in the town seems to know somebody who was linked to “The Edge”.
But the punting club’s code of omertà hangs over the town and residents are reluctant
to name names.
Members of the local footy team – the Yarrawonga Pigeons – are said to have been part of it, but club president Glenn Brear has insisted no club funds were poured into the scheme.
When the Herald Sun visited Yarrawonga this week people were happy to talk about the scandal but refused to be named.
Speaking over a beer in Burkes Hotel, one resident said that for every person who lost money in the syndicate there was another who turned a profit.
“It was not sold as a betting thing, it was sold to people as a solid investment,” he said.
“A lot of people here have lost a lot of money but people who got out in time made a lot too. “It was layered – you put in your money for the first layer, around $2,000, and then it would go up.
“They would say we will turn your $2,000 into $10,000. “ It sounded too good to be true.
“But the people who got involved were high rollers. The types who could afford to lose thousands.”
In The Yarrawonga Hotel just up the road several locals were involved in the scheme.
None wanted to be named but said there is a great deal of anger in the town about the money that has been lost.
Mayor Peter Mansfield insisted the impact on the town is minimal.
He said business was booming and the people of Yarrawonga were looking forward to a bumper holiday season.
“It’s obviously been talked about a lot around town at this moment in time but I haven’t noticed anything that is different,” Mr Mansfield said.
“Nobody has come forward and said ‘I’m ruined’ or anything like that.
“The general feeling around town is that we’ll move on from this very quickly.
“Some of the numbers are exaggerated. I don’t know of anybody who has been involved in it.
“There has been no impact on business or real estate – people aren’t rushing to sell properties
or anything like that.
“Shop owners are saying their numbers are up on last year so it’s not as if the town is struggling.”
That may be true but it’s likely the impact of “The Edge” – and its costly legacy – will be felt among many in this small, quiet town for many years to come.
NOTE: Written and published by Robbo.