New Hampshire
Problems Mount for Prospective Saddleback Buyer
Majella is now under voluntary administration with fraud charges growing to $10 million.
Sunday, September 2, 2018,

Broadway Hotel Fire
Broadway Hotel Fire, September 2, 2018

The tailspin of Australian-based Majella Group continues, as additional fraud charges have been filed and one of the development properties has burned.

According to ABC News, the Broadway Hotel was destroyed by fire early Sunday morning. While Majella had announced a $260 million development project for the property in 2016, it cancelled the proposal in July 2018. According to ABC News, the site is being treated as a crime scene.

Charges of $5 million in fraud were filed in June 2018, resulting in the arrest of Majella Group's CEO Sebastian Monsour. An additional $5 million was added to the fraud charges in late August, as another overseas investor stepped forward with a complaint. According to the Courier Mail, "police allege the money was not invested as promised and the man had no authority, appropriate licence or credentials to manage investments on behalf of the companies."

The Brisbane Times previously reported that Monsour allegedly diverted investor money to other projects, including $400,000 to Saddleback.

On August 16, 2018, Majella Group Holdings Pty Ltd was placed in voluntary administration under Richard Albarran. According to the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, "a voluntary administrator is usually appointed by a company’s directors, after they decide that the company is insolvent or likely to become insolvent."

Meanwhile, the Morning Sentinel reports that Central Maine is planning to provide $1 million for redevelopment support for Saddleback Mountain, the Route 4 corridor and New Vineyard as part of its Canada-to-Massachusetts power line project. It is not known if funds would be granted to Majella or the Berry family.

As of September 2018, the proposed Saddleback sale, originally announced in June 2017, has yet to be completed. The resort's web site and Facebook page remain adorned with Majella logos, having not been updated since last year.

Saddleback (file photo)

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 June 28, 2017, the Berry family announced Saddleback was being sold to the Majella Group. At that time, Majella announced the sale would be completed later in the summer and that a new fixed grip quad chairlift and T-Bar would be installed in 2017. At the time, Majella did not commit to operating in 2017-18.

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.

  • Broadway Hotel in Woolloongabba destroyed by fire, police investigating - ABC News External link

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