Thursday, July 5, 2012

Thursday, July 05, 2012
10
Bangkok,  July 4 2012

He never took over the family seat - sold by his father to Madame Tussauds - but Guy Greville, the current Earl of Warwick started building luxury homes to beat all on the Thai holiday island of Phuket.

In fact so amazing was his new scheme for people with the odd US$5-US$10 million to spend that the project called Istana last December won the Best International Architecture Award (Multiple Residence)  at the Bloomberg TV/Google  International Property Awards (IPA) at  the Savoy Hotel in London. It has also picked up other prestigious regional awards along the way.

“We are thrilled and humbled by this award,” said Richard Cohen, sales manager of Warwick’s company Prism Estates, not knowing then that his job or lack of it was on the cards.



What the glittering audience at the Savoy were not told however was Istana project which was first advertised in 2007 had not been been built, and work had in fact stopped.

Even today work has only started on two villas, owned by directors of the company, the Earl himself, descendant of Warwick the ‘Kingmaker’  and Briton Richard Shearer. This you might think makes all these property award ceremonies, of which there are more than a few in Thailand, all a bit rum even though the architecture for this one was rather stunning.

Shortly after the awards ceremony the company let go Richard Cohen and its Canadian public relations guru Duane Lennie, both of whom on parting claimed they were owed considerable sums.

And two months ago Shearer himself left the Thai holiday island after, but not necessarily because, lawyers representing two buyers who demanded their cash back, said they were filing charges against him for bouncing cheques to the value of US$3 million –  criminal offences in Thailand. He has not however returned.
“It has now become apparent that there was never any prospect of such cheques being honoured and Shearer as a director/shareholder of Prism knew or must have known that they would be so dishonoured and has thereby perpetrated a fraud.,” says a letter issued from the offices of Hong Kong Lawyers Oldham Li & Nie and sent to interested parties in Thailand on May 10th.

The lawyers represent a British company director with toy factories in China and a Singapore based American business consultant.

Plans are now in place to treat the ailing project and bring it back on course; perhaps along the lines of what the Earl's ancestor said to Henry IV.

"It is but as a body yet distempered; Which to his former strength may be restored With good advice and little medicine" - Earl of Warwick  -  (Shakespeare's capitalisation not mine)


Before he fled  Richard Shearer wrote to buyers saying that funding was now in place after ‘many months of empty promises from the (Islamic) bank’.



The Earl of Warwick  has also been reported to have also dug into his own pocket and come up with another US1 million + and has appointed  lawyer Australian Michael Brereton to put affairs in Thailand in order. 

But there are unconfirmed reports that the Earl's injection may pale into consideration with what has been removed offshore  from the company's bank for 'marketing'.

This will give Mr. Brereton something to do. The former celebrity lawyer, who represented Kylie Minogue and Men at Work has been banned from practicing law until 2014 by the Victoria Civil and and Administrative Tribunal and is living in self imposed exile. He has previously won cases against Australia Taxation Office and was heavily invesigated by an Australian Crime Commission.

According to the Australian publication 'Lawyers Weekly' of February 16th this year:
"Brereton was found guilty of tax avoidance, releasing trust monies without permission, and acting on a property transaction in which he had an interest. VCAT noted in its decision that 'the overall seriousness of the proven charges would have ordinarily warranted a suspension from practice as a lawyer for a period'.

However, VCAT took into account the fact that Brereton had not renewed his practising certificate since 2008 and had thus not engaged in legal practice during this period.McGarvie said the case highlights the potential consequences of lawyers mixing business with professional obligations.

“Lawyers cannot treat their clients’ trust money as if it is their own,” he said. “They have an obligation to handle trust money in accordance with the relevant legislation, legal profession rules and regulations.”



Revamping


Brereton was also banned from operating companies for three years, but that order has now expired.



His job now  involves quite some considerable revamping at Istana which I understand involves building smaller villas to better utilize the land near the island's Naithon Beach and the scrapping of a lavish 'concierge' near the main gate.

It may in fact differ significantly from the project which won the awards.

Now the buyers may be asked to buy as the development is actually built rather than after. So far some seven of a once proposed nineteen plots of land have been sold.

Neither the Earl nor Michael Brereton would comment and if the funding is indeed in place, said lawyer Gordon Oldham, who has gone to the south of France to do ‘the season’, his clients would like to see some of it.

The Earl of Warwick however has enough on his plate he is currently the Chairman and Joint Managing Director of Central Asia Resources, a Wembley, West Australia based company currently digging for gold in Kazakhstan.

A Flying Sporran Report

This years favourite legal letter so far:







Dear Matthew V McEvily,

I have amended Richard Cohen's title to sales manager. Let's not give him the airs and graces of your esteemed boss. However I do feel you have rather brushed him off in an undiplomatic manner and I am surprised you let him hold all those awards.

I do not understand your second half sentence: Not Michael Brereton as your internet blog states. I have not suggested Brereton is legally representing the Earl of Warwick if that's what you mean. I am not sure Michael is legally representing anything at the moment. I think he announced he was taking a break from all that stuff having been hounded in Australia.

You cannot demand that I cease further publication, although personally I think one story is enough for the time being.

Please inform me in what form and wording you would like this retraction to take.

Believe me, apart from perhaps elevating Richard Cohen, there is no oversight here so I will not be adhering to any demands until you can point out to me  in a clear fashion the alleged libel or libels that is/are irking you some much.

I find it scarcely believeable that the Earl of Warwick would wish you to issue summonses of 'criminal and civil' libel on his behalf.  Is there something perhaps you are not saying here?



Yours etc

Andrew Drummond



10 comments:

  1. Shouldn't that be Greville rather than Neville? And would that be the same Gordon Oldham who developed The Pavilions in Phuket (another v expensive project)?

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  2. Alisdair F - is there a comparison? Its all ridiculously expensive down there! But yes I believe GO has a lot of experience in Phuket.

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  3. Perhaps the Rissole Knights could guard the fort ?

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  4. Sounds to me like a fairytale inspired by H. C. Andersen: "The Emperor's New Suit".
    You can read my fairytale "The Emperor's New Villa" and also view the fun cartoon here:

    http://desperatehousebuyers.com/2012/07/07/earl-of-warwick-sells-invicible-villas-in-phuket/

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  5. Hmmm....we just got a letter from the Earl of Warwick's lawyer, that this is an incorrect and defaming story and they ask us to remove the story and cartoon from our website??

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  6. Well you see, not being a journalist, you would not know what to do if you copy information which you cannot personally back up. I see nothing wrong particularly with what you have put up. When receiving lawyers letters check (1) they are who they say they are and (2) they identify what is wrong with the story. If they have asked you to remove the cartoon tell them to take a running jump.
    I too have received a lawyer's letter. I have written back to him asking him to actually explain what he is talking about, and to perhaps ask his Thai lawyer where the offence has occurred and where are the errors of fact. If he points them out and they are genuine errors merely correct them.

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  7. The lawyer is Matthew V. McEvily, Esq. from the firm "mcevily & associates", advocates, solicitors & arbitrators.

    He writes to us that:

    1. Earl of Warwick has not sold any villas on behalf of Prism Estates (Thailand) Co. Ltd. (Prism)

    2. Lord Warwick did not name the project Istana, did not start building and was neither a builder, nor developer, nor director, nor managed, nor controlled Prism nor the Istana project.

    3. Lord Warwich did not attend the Savoy event and indeed was not at that time even aware of the ceremony.

    The lawyer continue and say that the article is false and misleading and damaging to his client. So he ask us to remove the article.

    I have now removed the Warwich name from the article and written an apology, but the cartoon is still there and so is the fairytale.

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  8. Whoops Hasanah I see you have apologised already. Thats an all time speed record. Need balls in this game Hasanah - If i were you I would remove the expression 'conmen' from the title though! I have now posted the most unprofessional libel threat letter I have ever received, with the exception perhaps of one I received from a lawyer representing Brian Wright.

    Look here's a clue

    1. I have never suggested the Earl personally sold any villas. He's much too busy enjoying himself and watching his gold mining operations.

    2.I have not suggested the Earl of Warwick started the project, built it, managed it etc - only that he put money into it and is the major force behind it. If Prism did not want to exploit his title he should not put Shearer and himself up for interview in property magazines no matter how fanciful these publications can become.

    3. I have not said Lord Warwick attended the Savoy event - or was aware of the ceremony. Why would he? Its not been built!

    4. The lawyer is concerned that the article is damaging to his client. It is to Prism Estates but the damage is self inflicted and its no libel to say the promised properties have not been built if they have not. Indee they have been taking money on houses which have not been built and the man in charge has run off.

    McElvily would do a lot better doing a damage limitation excercise by informing buyers in detail as to the recovery of this property. But he's a property lawyer and going down this road will I suspect get his own company into more problems least of all his bills.

    Finally Hasanah if you chose to retract or apologise don't go blaming other people. You say you have based your piece on a report by Andrew Drummond. If I were McEvily I would be issuing writ by now! or demanding you amend that to ' very loosely based'. If you are writing a fairy tale - keep it as a fairy tale.

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  9. Yeah Andrew, I must admit I lack balls of steel :D
    So good that you have balls for all of us :D

    I have noted your points and I agree with you, but I do not have the time or the energy to be dragged into a court case, that is why I apoligized.
    And today I got an email from the Lord Warwick himself, thanking me of retracting his name ;-)

    But heck...his name is already mentioned, so people do actually know who was / is behind the Istana project, right?
    It doesn't really matter if I apoligized to save my own ass, coz the harm is done already, no?

    My fairytale is a real fairytale with roots in the real world and inspired by your story - and even the Earl Of Warwick applauded the cartoon and the fairytale ;-)

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  10. Splendid Hasanah. I can understand why you do not wish to go down that road. I work on the basis that if anything is incorrect in my articles I will more than willingly correct it.
    If stories are critical, in Thailand they should be in the public interest and there is a good public interest point here - its the public who is buying. If Lord Warwick wishes to sue in the criminal court what does he gain? and in the civil court? And he should certainly notify me of the libels first.

    In this case one has to ask why is a lawyer deliberatly trying to disassociate Lord Warwick from all aspects of this project? Why has the mention of his name been such an irritant?

    Should legal action be taken I will merely inform both courts that if I have erred on other points of accuracy then there is certainly no intent and the matters will be corrected. The lawyer's letter was an impolite, unprofessional, an all encompassing way to start off a mediation process if there was going to be one. The fact that the same lawyer is representing Prism and Lord Warwick is significant considering the denials. Glad he liked the 'fairy tale'.

    Best AD

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