What’s the Price Of A Rambo Hooker
Robert J Lee of Cairns News
Prospective buyers of a 160 acre Atherton farm listed for auction on March 28, have been warned by a bank watch group that any sale is “buyer beware”.
Sydney- based SafeBank spokesman Peter Adler said the Atherton case was one of the worst examples of financial fraud the group had seen.
“Our legal team has perused the file relating to the impending auction of the property and has found the forced sale to be unlawful, due in part to the financiers refusal to provide any substantiating documentation,” Mr Adler said.
“How a court has overlooked this basic accounting requirement is remarkable.”
A plight of human tragedy unfolds
When a dodgy real estate agent hops into bed with peccant financiers to scam farms from desperate landowners a legal remedy is expensive and if you reside in Queensland, impossible to achieve.
There is a woeful tale of illegal financial dealings, fraud, real estate malpractice and human tragedy reverberating around the Far Northern town of Atherton.
The main player is, not surprisingly, the Dalrymple electorate Chairman of the Liberal National Party and L.J Hooker franchisee Kevin (Rambo) Ramke, who has made it his life’s mission to undermine and asset-strip a Tablelands’ pioneering family.
L. J Hooker Atherton office
The saga began six years ago when Upper Barron dairy farmers Ron and Sue Ford sought alternative finance after the price of milk fell below sustainable levels and they were left high and dry by their trading bank.
Private financial company and payday lenders, G B Investments of Adelaide took up the Ford’s loan after the National Australia Bank refused to extend more credit on their dairy business.
Over a lifetime the Fords have accumulated a number of adjoining properties and other small farms left to Ron, 65, by his father, providing ample security for another loan until two smaller properties were sold.
Had these two separate blocks been sold the debt would have been paid.
In 2007 the rural property market on the Tablelands collapsed and their loan to property value ratio was significantly affected. The two properties failed to sell at auction, then Hookers best and not-so-brightest, Rambo, stepped into action, selling the remaining three properties for whatever price he could get. They eventually discovered one block was sold for $150,000 under market value.
The Fords maintain that they had never given Ramke a mandatory, signed ‘authority to sell’ agreement for a real estate agent, authorising him to market any property on their behalf.
The errant agent sold six of their properties, over the past five years, taking commission each time.
How he was able to sell them remains a quirk of the law. When Ramke first learnt the Fords were in trouble with their new lenders, he contacted the company without the Ford’s permission or knowledge, claiming he had a buyer for one of the properties. The properties failed to sell privately, according to the Fords because Ramke had no buyer. He then advertised them at auction, without the Ford’s authority.
Sue Ford said the first thing she knew about the impending auction sale was when she saw her property advertised in the local newspaper.
Initially G B Investments sought an order in the Cairns District Court to sell the main property to cover the alleged debt. An order was granted to sell the farm that had the dairy. It was subsequently sold and Mrs Ford maintains the sale should have covered the debt.
Here’s the crunch. Neither the Fords nor their lawyers have ever been presented with a statement of account from any property sale showing how much they actually owed or if in fact the alleged $1.8m debt had been discharged.
G B Investments has simply sold each property using the one and only order ever granted by a court for the initial sale. The Fords do not know how much the properties made at private sale or how much they allegedly owe the company.
They have never signed a contract of sale.
G B Investments had never been granted mortgagee in possession from any court to sell any property.
In spite of repeated requests to G B Investments from the Ford’s solicitors and from personal approaches, at no time have the desperate landowners been given a statement of account.
In February the Fords took their plight to the Supreme Court in Brisbane expecting justice for what legal opinion said was a strong case.
They had no chance in Queensland as many other bank litigants have discovered, especially when they have been allocated the allegedly arrogant and incompetent Judge Deborah Mullins.
She threw the case out, much to the chagrin and despair of the Fords. Their last vestige of self-esteem, independence and their home has been cast aside by a nefarious and notorious legal system where only banks can win.
Their legal fees topped $60,000.
The case preparation was meticulous. Mrs Ford had kept a copy of the scant paperwork relevant to the sales and all dealings with the company; the only missing piece of the jigsaw was a statement from the financiers showing how much was allegedly owed.
Their 160 acre retirement home and land that director John Barry told Mrs Ford “would never be sold” has been advertised for auction by Hookers on March 28.
Directors of G B Investments, Bob Holyoak, Albanian John Barry and similarly Kevin Ramke, have refused to answer emails from Cairns News requesting their comments.
Mrs Ford said the activities of GB Investments and L J Hooker would be tabled next week in Federal Parliament and then State Parliament in its first sittings.