Transcript of 'A Current Affair'

BUSTING THE INTERNATIONAL CONMAN

Channel 9 (National Australia)
A Current Affair - 19/09/2005 - 06:30 PM
Host: Ray Martin
Producer: Mr David Hurley

Report on the real estate business's dirty tricks. Stephen Cleeve, high-flying English real estate salesman, has a fraudulent past in the UK and has been trying to rip people off in Melbourne with company European Land Sales. Cleeve tries to sell English properties to Australian investors in land banking schemes, which involves buying non-residential land for a song then having it re-zoned. Marina Dankovic, administrator, worked for European Land Sales and says it was very shonky and misleading. Neil Jenman, real estate renegade, has published warnings against Cleeve on the internet and confronts Cleeve. Shirley, Raymond Selley, Nick Lassako, Cleeve attacks Jenman. European Land Sales was kicked out of the Perth money show.

Interviewees: Marina Dankovic, administrator; Neil Jenman, real estate renegade; Stephen Cleeve, high-flying English real estate salesman
Mentions: Serious Fraud Office
Duration: 6:30
Summary ID: M00019269377
© Media Monitors

RM: Ray Martin - Program host
BF: Ben Fordham - Reporter
NJ: Neil Jenman - Investigative author
SC: Stephen Cleeve - Conman and subject of story
MD: Maria Dankovic - Former employee of Cleeve's
SH: Shirley Hill - Investor and Cleeve victim
RS: Raymond Selley - Investor and Cleeve victim
 Nick Losocco - Investor and Cleeve victim

RM:   This story is about what really goes on, what some dealers will do to get their hands on your money, they'll tell you anything, sell you property anywhere anytime.  This story is also an eye opener at how some agents react when the game is up.

MD:  They can't be allowed to get away with it, they just can't.

NJ:  You're buying hope that's never going to materialise. The guy's a crook.

MD:  Don't go near them, it's just for money money.

BF [approaching Cleeve in a restaurant]:  Hello Mr Cleeve, Ben Fordham from Channel Nine Australia.  I have a few questions for you about your land sale business.

SC:  Right.

BF:  This smooth talking conman has just been busted.  His name is Stephen Cleeve.

SC:  You need to turn this off.  I need to speak to you first before we erŠ

BF:  It's not the first time he's landed in trouble.  In the year 2000 it was a whiskey scam in Britain.  He was banned from being a company director for 8 years.

NJ: I spoke to some journalists in the UK who said to me, "Mate we know this guy as 'The Evil Clevil, look out for him."

BF:  So after being banned in Britain, exposed in a 60 million pound scam - that's about 140 million Aussie dollars - Stephen  Cleeve set his sights down under.  He's here spruiking for your business and the customers we've spoken to have a similar message: Watch out.

MD:  They go to trade shows, they go to money expos er home shows, boat showsŠ

BF:  It's happening right around the country.  Last Friday, at the Perth Money Show, Cleeve was at it again, selling the English countryside to Aussie investors.

NL:  Looked very impressive, very stylish, dressed in a very nice suits.

BF:  Did it sound like an attractive offer?

RS:  Very much so.

SC:  By redrawing the boundaries around plots of ground you can turn people into millionaires.

BF:  It's called land banking and it works like this:  First you buy a patch of grass you're not allowed to build on, then you hope the area is rezoned to allow development; if that happens you make money.

SC:  We haven't misled any investors...

BF:  But that's not true.  You only have to look at the promotional video Stephen Cleeve uses to lure Aussie investors.  It's a straight out lie.

SC [on promotional video]:  One of the questions I get asked most is what happens if you don't get planning err this is a situation where first you have to look at our track record.  Our track record shows that we do get planning in most of our cases.

BF:  Now for the truth:  European Land Sales has no track record.  There's not one case of the company getting planning approval despite what's said on the video.

Bald headed presenter [on promotional video]:  We probably have a 90% success rate.

BF:  What percentage of the land that you have sold has been rezoned to allow housing?

SC:  The process takes 2 - 5 years to rezone land, okay?  Therefore as the company has been in business for 15 months it would be impossible, physically impossible, for us to have rezoned anything.

MD:  My personal belief, it's a scam.  I worked for European Land Sales for 6 months and I believe it's a scam.

BF:  Marina Denkovic was in charge of administration at the company's Australian headquarters.

MD:  Some of the customers were buying land and they were promised Oxford and they'd come back and in their papers, they'd have Aylesbury because there was no Oxford to sell, it was just a sales pitch.

BF:  That's what happened to this Australian investor who paid $18,500.  He was told in writing his plot was reserved at Oxford, but the land he got is in another county.

MD:  The office was a shambles.  There was just outstanding bills of about 90.. $90,000 bills that weren't getting paid.

BF:  Marina's suspicions were realised when she spotted a warning on the internet written by real estate renegade Neil Jenman.

NJ:  Selling worthless land in England, that in 500 or a 1,000 years from now might be worth what you paid for it.  I reckon this is one of the most blatant real estate frauds I've ever seen.

SC:  There is no evidence.  There's nothing we've done wrong.

BF:  No no no the serious fraud office says "there is evidence that the partnership misleading investors".

SC:  No, it doesn't say that, give me a look.

BF:  "There is evidence that the partnership is misleading investors."

BF:  But Stephen Cleeve says he's the victim of a smear campaign.

SC:  I'm more than happy to talk to Neil Jenman.  I'd love to speak to him face to face.

NJ:  So he attacks back and says that I'm doing it to sell my books; well maybe I might be.  I write books about crooks.

NJ [confronting Cleeve at restaurant]:  Now I want you out of this country.  I don't even want you here as a tourist, mate.  You should be in mandatory detention.  Get out of Australia.  Get out.

SC:  Can I just explain this to you because you seem to be missing the point.  We are also providing a very alternative investment for high network individuals.

BF:  High network individuals like single mum Shirley Hill.

SH: Oh yeah right.

BF:  Maintenance worker Raymond Selley.

RS:  No, I'm an average working guy and average wage and er no I can't afford, I couldn't afford to lose $19,000.

BF:  And Qantas engineer Nick Losocco.

NL:  They kept my money and I'm sure they've kept a lot of other people's money also.

Scuffle Stephen Cleeve pushes Neil.

NJ: Don't push me.

Cleeve punches Neil in side of face.

Voice heard: Back off, back off, Š.getting violent Mr Cleeve.

SC: Cos you're lying.

MD:  I have heard Stephen Cleeve, in front of a lot of us that worked for him at the time, threaten to destroy Neil Jenman and his family.

SC [trying to lunge at Neil while being restrained by security officer]:  No one likes you, they think you're a sleaze ball.

NJ:  And they're going to love you.

SC:  They like me.

NJ [speaking the next day]:  I knew that this man had threatened my family to people, I got upset, I lost it.

BF:  Okay I think we've had enough here so let's call it a day, shall we call it a day?  Guys let's just call it a day, let's just call it a day.

SC:  Taking photographs all the time (tries to take camera from Neil)

SC [at door of restaurant]:  Are you coming gentlemen or are you going to wait around?

BF:  Stephen Cleeve and European Land Sales were kicked out of the Perth money show after Consumer Affairs learnt of our investigation and carried out their own.

BF:  So Australian investors shouldn't be fearing you?

SC:  No, they should be welcoming me.  I'm going to make them some money, definitely.

MD:  He's a very fast talker.  If you listen to Stephen Cleeve for long enough you would believe.

SC:  When all our land starts being rezoned or will it be the land which someone else owns but someone is going to become a millionaire from this.  Someone will make a lot of money.

BF: Will it be you?

SC:  No, no no no no not me.

NJ:  You'll let crooks come into this country.  We've got enough spruikers here in Australia we don't need to import them.

RM:  Ben Fordham with that story and Stephen Cleeve's European Land Sales Group has a stall booked for next month's Melbourne Property Expo. Let's hope the Victorian authorities take the lead from WA and send Mr Cleeve back home with a one way ticket.

****STORY ENDS****

Photo Below* shows Stephen Cleeve being restrained by a security officer at a Melbourne restaurant on September 13, 2005. Cleeve had just punched and kicked author Neil Jenman in the presence of a television film crew.

*investdrinks note: sadly this photo was not included.