Posted Wednesday, November 9, 2005

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Sydney, Australia, Wednesday, November 9, 2005

Abe GoldbergMissing magnate surfaces as a Polish property tycoon

By Damien Murphy

»»» Abe Goldberg . . . "What did I get away with? I lost more than everybody else. What do you mean I got away with it?"

ABE Goldberg, Australia's last fugitive from the corporate collapses of the 1980s, has been tracked down in Poland and is clearly unrepentant about doing a runner with $1.5 billion missing from his rag trade business.

Fifteen years after he fled as Australia's then biggest bankrupt, Mr Goldberg has told the Bulletin magazine that he was unconcerned that people here were angry with him. "People are what they are . . . I don't care or give a damn for them," the magazine quoted him as saying.

Mr Goldberg, with Alan Bond and the late Christopher Skase, was one of the more notorious of the failed 1980s businessmen shonks who flared brilliantly only to flame out, causing mortal damage to some banks and three state governments.

For a decade and a half Australian authorities could not find Mr Goldberg after he decamped to his native Poland.

The Australian Securities and Investments Commission and the Director of Public Prosecutions are pursuing at least 17 charges over the collapse of Mr Goldberg's Lintner Group.

However, The Bulletin found Mr Goldberg, 76, in Warsaw last month and has featured him in a rollicking cover story today titled "Gotcha!", a nod to the 1982 headline of the London tabloid The Sun celebrating the sinking of the Argentine light cruiser General Belgrano.

During his Australian business career Mr Goldberg collected iconic Australian brands -- Speedo, Exacto, Stubbies and King Gee -- to the Lintner Group's stable and employed about 50,000 people around the nation.

Now he is into Polish property.

The Bulletin said Mr Goldberg was now one of Poland's leading property magnates and controlled 22 companies. Some of his businesses own as many as a dozen buildings in the capital, Warsaw, including some of the city's tallest skyscrapers. One tenant is Citibank, one of Lintner's biggest creditors in Australia.

The Bulletin said Mr Goldberg operated under as many as 10 aliases but controlled most of his holdings under the name Aleksander Goldberg. In addition he sat at the top of an extensive network of influential corporate interests across Europe, North America and Israel.

When he fled to Poland, Australia did not have an extradition treaty with the then communist government there.

A treaty now exists but The Bulletin quoted a Director of Public Prosecutions representative as saying Mr Goldberg could not be extradited because he had Polish citizenship and Poland would not extradite its nationals. But the magazine said Mr Goldberg remained an Australian citizen and he claimed to have been issued with a new passport recently by the Australian embassy.

Mr Goldberg has spoken to Australian media outlets previously, but The Bulletin interview is the most extensive since he fled the country in 1990.

Asked if he thought he had got away with stealing so much money, Mr Goldberg was quoted as saying: "What did I get away with? I lost more than everybody else. What do you mean I got away with it?"

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