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June 22, 2018

Saddleback suitor charged with fraud in Australia

Courtesy / Saddleback Mountain Resort
Courtesy / Saddleback Mountain Resort
The owner of the Majella Group, an Australian company that signed an asset purchase agreement to secure ownership of the Saddleback Mountain Resort last June, has been arrested in Australia as part of a long-running investigation into a $5 million investment fraud.

Sebastian "Seb" Monsour, the Australian who announced last June his plans to buy Saddleback Mountain ski resort, was arrested as part of a long-running investigation into a $5 million investment fraud.

Majella Group, which has diversified holdings and an office in Portland, signed an asset purchase agreement last June to secure ownership of Saddleback Mountain Resort in Rangeley, according to press reports at that time. The purchase was to include all holdings of Saddleback Mountain Resort, including the resort, base lodge, ski lifts and surrounding timberland, totaling 6,337 acres, according to a press release. The sellers were Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.

The Australian Broadcasting Corp., Portland Press Herald and other news outlets reported reported Thursday that police raided Monsour's business, arrested him in Brisbane City, and held him in custody overnight for an appearance Friday in the Brisbane Magistrate's Court on charges of fraud.

Monsour is the 44-year-old chief executive of real estate development company Majella Group and the brother-in-law of former Queensland premier Campbell Newman, the Australian broadcaster reported.

Police told Australian Broadcast Corp. the case was a "long and protracted investigation."

In June 2017, Saddleback's current owners, Bill and Irene Berry of Farmington, signed an asset purchase agreement with the Majella Group of Brisbane, Australia. But Majella Group hasn't closed on the purchase. In March, News Center Maine reported that it received a September 2017 audio recording from a former employee of the Majella Group, on which Majella CEO Sebastian Monsour says that "opening the mountain at Saddleback for the Saddleback Resort is not a primary concern."

The Berry family purchased Saddleback in 2003 and shut down operations in 2015.

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