Liquidator eyeing fraudster's estate sale

Saratoga Estate Vineyard has some 25,000 vines planted producing both white and red grape varieties
Saratoga Estate Vineyard has some 25,000 vines planted producing both white and red grape varieties

The sale of a multimillion-dollar Waiheke Island property has drawn interest from the liquidator for two companies that are accused of owing about $120,000 from failed hospitality ventures.

Property records show convicted fraudster David McCabe is one of three owner/occupiers of Saratoga Estate, an 8.4 hectare property across two titles with vineyards, winery, brewing operation, spirit-distilling plant and restaurant.

According to Quotable Value, the other owners of the $3.65 million valued property are Pamela McCabe and Kathryn McCabe.

About 6ha of the Saratoga estate is planted with about 25,000 vines producing a variety of red and white grapes.

The estate website says David McCabe and Pamela McCabe, his wife, bought it in July 2002 "as an additional string to their bow ... "

The property, about 1km from Onetangi beach, is being marketed by Bayleys agent Pat Regan.

Mr Regan says with careful management the wines produced there could generate the kind of worldwide acclaim enjoyed by those from leading Waiheke vineyards, including Mudbrick and Stonyridge.

The marketing campaign finishes this month with Bayleys confident it will sell for its official valuation.

The sale has drawn interest from the liquidator for companies that owned Auckland nightspots Margaritas and Crow Bar, once a celebrity hangout visited by U2 singer Bono.

Sunset Entertainment Ltd, which owned Margaritas, and Club Crow Bar Ltd, which owned Crow Bar, went into liquidation last year. Liquidator Simon Dalton, from Gerry Rea Partners, said together they owed about $120,000.

American David McCabe owned 40 per cent of the shares in Sunset.

According to the Companies Office website the sole director of both companies was Megan McCabe, David and Pamela's daughter.

Mr Dalton said she had gone to America after attempts to have her declared bankrupt.

However, Mr Dalton said he would scrutinise any payments Club Crow Bar Ltd made to Saratoga Estate in case they could be deemed unfair.

If that was the case, the sale of the estate could partially fund repayments to creditors.

"Without [the financial records] we can't confirm if [payments to Saratoga Estate] were for purchasing wine. They may be completely legitimate," Mr Dalton said.

"We have an obligation to look at all avenues that are in the best interests of creditors. If there is something there that we believe is worthwhile looking at [it will be investigated]."

Mr Dalton said he was also attempting to investigate $470,000 of payments from Club Crow Bar Ltd to Green Grass Ltd, of which David McCabe was sole director and shareholder.

David McCabe was defending the payments but blocking access to financial records and the matter was before the courts.

"We have the bank statements ... and there were items on there that raised suspicion," Mr Dalton said.

"Without company records it's quite difficult [to prove the money was paid unfairly]."

Attempts to contact David McCabe were unsuccessful and his lawyer declined to comment.

He was convicted in 2010 after passing off spirits brewed at Saratoga as branded alcohol and selling them to drinkers at Margaritas and the Hot Lava Bar in Ohakune.

Reports at the time said he was arrested at Auckland airport as he was about to board a flight to his homeland.

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