Majella is being sued by an investor for 'misleading and deceptive conduct.'
Wednesday, March 21, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Saddleback Base Lodge, March 18, 2018
The previously announced acquisition of Saddleback has yet to occur and the committed reopening of the ski area this winter did not happen. While powder piles up on decks of the closed Saddleback base lodge, prospective buyer Majella's problems appear to be growing.
According to the Courier Mail, Majella and its CEO Sebastian Monsour are being sued by a Chinese investor for "misleading and deceptive conduct." According to the Courier Mail, President & CEO of TOMI International Fusheng Li is taking part in the Significant Investor Visa (SIV) program, an Australian version of the EB-5 program. SIV participants are required to invest $5 million AUD in exchange for a visa.
According to NBC Portland's Kristina Rex, Monsour was "touting various accomplishments in property development, including The Williston-West Church in Portland, Saddleback Mountain, a massive Portland waterfront project of 300 condos, retail space, and a veterans' hospital."
The Williston-West Church is owned by Monsour's father, and is not affiliated with Sebastian Monsour or Majella, according to NBC Portland. The Saddleback transaction has yet to be closed, while the waterfront project was never seriously considered, as then-Portland Mayor Michael Brennan "expressed skepticism."
According to NBC Portland, Majella did not pay Li the interest he was promised, and instead allocated the money to payroll, Australian property, and to its United States office. Li is suing for the return of his $5 million investment.
Meanwhile, according to multiple sources, three of the four offices advertised on Majella's web site are not occupied by the company. Only the listed global headquarters appears to be affiliated with the company, which is a small building on a side street in Brisbane.
Majella Global Headquarters
The latest revelations come a week after a leaked tape was released in which Monsour stated the company was "cash poor" and that "we are not going to lose any sleep" if Saddleback does not reopen.
The latest saga dates back to July 2015, when the Berry family, owners of Saddleback, announced the Rangeley double was "at end of its useful life" and that operations would cease if the lift could not be replaced. The lift was not replaced and the ski area sat idle for the following two winters.
On September 18, 2017, Majella declared "dominoes have fallen into place" and that "physical work is starting" and that "the first step will be taking down the existing Rangeley lift." As of mid December, the chairs remain on the Rangeley Double. However, chairs were removed from the other lifts and remain on the ground, now buried in snow. Saddleback's lifts have not passed state inspection since November 2014.
Also on September 18, with regard to a 2017-18 reopening, Majella posted, "only thing that is going to hold up or delay this process is Mother Nature" and that Majella was "committed to opening in some capacity for the 2017-18 ski season, assuming Mother Nature does not deliver an early winter with heavy snow."
On November 9, Majella announced delays in the sale, while also adding uncertainty to a 2017-18 reopening by stating it "will not be a full opening, rather a limited operation that, if possible, will allow our Saddlebackers and their families to return and enjoy the mountain in some capacity."
On November 21, NBC Portland reported it had "learned exclusively that the money isn’t there," adding "if the group doesn't come up with the money soon, the deal could fall apart entirely."