The sordid little story of Marathon Resources just gets dirtier.
The latest development is the registration at the Australian Securities Exchange of Black Pearl Global Opportunity Fund as a substantial shareholder.
Although not yet listed on the Marathon Resources website as one of its Top Twenty Shareholders, BPGOF has purchased sufficient shares between December 8 last year and February 11 this year to move into fifth place behind ANZ Nominees Ltd with close to 4.8 million shares and a voting power of 6.3%.
So who is BPGOF?
It is a company incorporated in the tax haven of the Cayman Islands.
Its directors are Abbas Jafarian and Reza Irani-Kermani.
And that’s about all the website of its parent company, Black Pearl Capital (of which Jafarian is CEO) reveals. It’s worth going there just to get the flavour of this secretive operation (http://blackpearlcap.com/ ).
Further investigation reveals that both Jafarian and Irani-Kermani worked together at Brokerbox Limited, based at Chicago and for the Fixi Group based in London.
Jafarian had also worked as an investment executive at Morgan Stanley where he was responsible for the Middle Eastern region managing over $1.3 billion in assets. He has also worked for British Chartis Research’s mergers and acquisitions advisory service.
Drawing on that experience, Black Pearl Capital has a sister company to BPGOF in Onyx MENA Fund, also registered in the Cayman Islands. Onyx is a hedge fund with a target capital of $US250 million focusing primarily on the Middle East and North African (MENA) markets.
Jafarian has a number of other private equity outfits of which he is sole director, such as Verity Real Estate and Eurozone Equity Company, both of which are registered in another tax haven, Luxembourg.
Irani-Kermani has based his career on foreign exchange and investment management.
However, he came under the spotlight in 1999 through his association with Kia Joorabchian with whom he acted as a front for Russian gangster capitalist Boris Berezovsky when the latter took control of the influential Kommersant Publishing which runs the most influential newspaper in Moscow.
Irani-Kermani popped up again in dodgy circumstances when he was associated with Joorabchian’s purchase of the Brazilian soccer team Corinthians. It has been alleged that the men were involved in money laundering through player payments, marketing and so on. In less than a year, they had spent $US60 million through their football investments.
Whilst their share acquisitions in Marathon are perfectly legal (they have retained Adelaide-based law firm Johnson Winter & Slattery), it remains something of a mystery as to how Marathon Resources, a minor minerals explorer at the best of times, and one whose future is clouded by ongoing controversy associated with its despoliation of the pristine Arkaroola Wilderness Sanctuary, has come to their attention.
Is it just insignificant enough on the world scale to be set up for more money laundering?
With their expertise in hedge funds, are they going to seize an appropriate time to short it and race away with their pockets full (although it can’t be shorted too much at only 36 cents a share at the moment!)
With their private equity expertise, are they going to take it over completely, take it private and get it off the stock exchange so they can restructure and asset strip? It might need to have a structure first, to be restructured, and have assets for them to be stripped! It has neither at the moment.
So, the latest episode in our local little soap opera fails to clean the air.
Once again, the absence of an Independent Commission Against Corruption, consistently blocked by Premier Rann and his corrupt capitalist Labor administration, is very much felt.
Stay tuned folks, and let’s see what the Iranian pair of finance capitalists parasites can make out of the sad little Marathon mess.