Prospective Saddleback Buyer Arrested, Charged with Fraud
Sebastian Monsour was charged by State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia
Thursday, June 21, 2018, NewEnglandSkiIndustry.com
Nearly one year after the announcement of the sale of Saddleback Mountain Resort, Majella Group's CEO Sebastian Monsour has been charged with investment fraud of over $5 million by the State Crime Command’s Financial and Cyber Crime Group in Australia.
According to the Brisbane Times, "a number of documents and financial records and some electronic evidence" were seized following the execution of a search warrant today.
According to Senior Constable Henderson, "We are currently under investigation as to where the money has gone but yes, it has gone."
According to the Brisbane Times, "Monsour was charged with one count of fraud at Brisbane Watchouse where his bail was withheld."
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."
In March 2018, NBC Portland released leaked audio in which Monsour stated "I have a very very very small amount of funds" and that "opening the mountain at Saddleback for the Saddleback Resort is not a primary concern for us."
In May 2018, tapes leaked indicating Monsour was seeking to operate "private entertainment spaces" from Australia to the United States with special arrangements "so we don’t have to get the bloody brothel licence."
Saddleback did not operate during the winter of 2017-18.