This information has been posted as a warning to anyone having business dealings with Benari or Challenger and Challenger Annuities We have received legal advice that Brian Benari the CEO of Challenger has causes of action against him for fraud or negligence, misleading and deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary obligation.
Summary of facts. Please advise me within 48 hours if anything is factually incorrect and if so I will check and amend as required before posting this on Thursday. ( I have had no response so am posting this Friday)
MY DEALINGS WITH BRIAN BENARI as proof that he is DISHONEST:
- I have known him since 1987 and had considered
him a trusted friend.
- I am the godfather his eldest son Liam Benari, know his wife Natasha Benari and had
fully trusted him.
- We jointly owned two Hotels in Western Australia
and I had made him over $5m in just a few years by rebuilding and developing
the business at the Lighthouse Beach Resort in Bunbury.
- When Bankwest ran into problems and were taken
over by CBA they changed the rules devaluing our properties substantially and
doubled their interest rate margins.
- Bankwest subsequently requested repayment of
- We received a cash offer for the Lighthouse of
$14m which would have repaid most of the debt.
- Brian Benari agreed to match that offer.
- Without notifying or discussing with me Benari
gave Bankwest a date for repayment of the debt that couldn’t be achieved.
- When Benaris lawyer prepared sale documents we
discovered his offer DID NOT match the cash offer he had agreed to match. Even
his accountant confirmed this fact.
- He then reduced his offer to $13.3 m being
$700,000 less than he had agreed and told Bankwest he would pay just a few
- Bankwest appointed receiver managers to both
hotels and to my profitable family business which has acted as co-guarantor for
- Benari then purchased the property in a new
entity for $9.5m being $4.5m less than he agreed just a few months earlier.
- Our Lawyers have advised us that this conduct
has been misleading & deceptive, fraudulent and in breach of his directors
Challenger Financial Services have tried in an International Court in Geneva to have the website telling about Benaris conduct at www.chalengerinfo.com taken down. The Court dismissed their case and the website remains up. Challenger used a top Sydney Law firm Baker McKenzie to do this but failed. The cost of this action would have been considerable and for a lesser cost an independent arbitrator could have reviewed the facts and made a decision as to whether Benari has acted dishonestly or not. If they had ruled my comments are false I would take the website down and cease action against Benari.
I want family, friends, business colleagues and others who have dealings with Benari to know what the truth is.
I have suggested to Benari that we engage an independent Arbitrator to look at the facts and to decide if his conduct is honest or not and have said I will cease making his actions public if he agrees to this fair proposal. He has refused to agree to this which almost proves in itself that he is dishonest.
I wish I had never met him. He is deceitful and dishonest and has destroyed my family business.
I have today 4th August 2015 sent this summary to Brian asking him to tell me if any of the above is factually incorrect and that I will amend if required.
He will eventually be brought to account.
August 2014. Challenger Limited and Challenger Group Holdings Limited fail in their bid at the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva Switzerland to take this website down.
Their appeal was lodged by Sydney law firm Barker & McKenzie in a lengthy 56 page submission. We responded and the case was judged by an independent 3 person panel of experts in Intellectual Property Law. The panel concluded that the complaint by Challenger be denied and access to this domain was returned to us which is a victory for free speech.
Included in their judgement was the statement that "Recent public controversies concerning Australian financial institutions have raised prominently not merely misconduct of employees and management attempts to cover up misconduct, but also the ethical standards of those in management. The Respondent is entitled to draw conclusions from this public debate that his dealings with Mr. Benari raises this very issue.. “
We believe and we have independent legal opinion that Benari has acted dishonestly and have requested independent arbitration which he has rejected. Honesty is not something that can be compartmentalised within someones life and if Benari has acted dishonestly in his private dealings it should be of great concern to Challenger management. If Benari is honest he would have nothing to fear from independent arbitration and the fact that he has rejected this yet his company has spent a lot of shareholders money in an international court to try to shut this website down raises very serious concerns regarding the ethical standards of both Benari and Challenger management. It would have been far simpler for Benari to agree to Arbitration and prove himself honest if he believes he is so.
The only logical conclusion from this in my opinion is that Benari is dishonest and that Challenger management are fully aware of this and want it concealed.
Challenger are now advertising their investment & superannuation products including challenger annuities.. Read this and decide for yourself...
Click this link to view video:
Challenger CEO Brian Benari. Is he trustworthy? You decide.
He has threatened to sue if this website isn't taken down and will seek an injunction to close it if not done so by 16.11.2012. We haven't and he has not done so because he knows if he does it will further expose his dishonest dealings.
We have proposed in November 2012 an independent mediator determine the issues. Benari has rejected this proposal. Benari has refused to return correspondence on these issues. What does that tell you about his honesty?
If he is not prepared to let an independent mediator review then what is he hiding?
Update March 2012. Brian Benari finally agreed to talk if we pulled this website down, We took this website down and met and discussed issues and he maintained his innocence which our advisors dispute. We suggested independent arbitration to sort things out and said we would keep this website down during the arbitration and forever if the arbitrator ruled in Benaris favour. Benari rejected this proposal saying it was a loose loose proposal for him. If he had done nothing wrong you would think he would welcome the prospect of independent arbitration.
Further to this Benari has failed to respond to requests from the ATO and his accountant to get tax affairs in order and as a result of this faces court action as unfortunately do I for being involved with him. He is without doubt a dishonest and I wish I had never met him.
Challenger board members Peter Poulson and Leon Zwier and General Counsel and Group Company Secretary Michael Vardanega have been informed of these facts and made aware of this situation... Are they going to take action or try to cover this up? Michel Vardanega advised us by email "Please discontinue the use of this domain name immediately". In the interests of others we will not do so.
Challenger is advertising to raise money from the public for investment in their annuity products. If Brian Benari treats his investors or his family the way he has treated a person he has known for 25 years and the godfather of his first son like this them beware!
To Benaris wife Natasha and family: Please try to get him to sort this out amicably through arbitration, if he doesn't agree to that you can only conclude he has been dishonest and is trying to hide it in which case I feel sorry for you. (If he does this to me it may be you one day).
Summary of our business history with Brian Benari which proves his dishonesty if more detail is required:
I have personally known Brian Benari since 1987 being 25 Years.
I had considered him a trusted and respected friend.
We have had various business dealings over the years and the Lighthouse Hotel in Bunbury WA was the most successful of these, Brian progressively lent up to $1.3m from May 2003 to August 2005 being just over 2 years at which time he got all his money back plus interest at current bank rates and ended up with a 50% share of the Lighthouse Hotel and net equity of about $6m for no cost with an income a few years later.
I was content to subdivide the property and take half each and put various proposals to him. At a meeting in Sydney in c2006 Brian said I was being too conservative and that we should buy more and he would back things up with extra equity if needed so I agreed.
We purchased the National Hotel in Fremantle in 2007 and started redevelopment but Bankwest ran into difficulties and I suggested to Brian that we sell. At a meeting in Sydney he said he had $3m cash in the bank and he would fund if needed so I agreed to progress. A few months later he advised he had a large tax bill and had purchased a farm so was tight for money but he would sort things out. I mortgaged my house to cover ongoing building costs in the misguided belief that he would have money soon. It got harder and harder.
Bankwest then devalued our assets by 20% just 5 months after a previous valuation and told us they were doubling their interest rate margin, they offered some funding but it was not enough, I decided it was commercially too hard and that we needed to sell and go our own way or sell non-income producing assets and concentrate on cash flow. That’s when the trouble with Benari started. It has been a disaster ever since, Our Bankwest business manager, Robert Byatt, has told me he can’t believe I called Benari a friend and the selling agent Graeme Clarke of Burgess Rawson says he hasn’t seen anything like Benaris behaviour in his whole career of selling properties.
History of business dealings with Brian Benari. Supporting documents available.
1) We decide to sell the Lighthouse Hotel to wind up an ownership partnership. Benari says either of us should only buy if we can match other offers (email 1. 7th Dec 2010).
2) Get a written offer for $14m effectively cash unconditional from a third party through selling agents.
3) Benari agrees to match the terms of that offer (email 2. 7th Feb 2011). Selling agents could confirm.
4) He confirms that agreement (email 3. 26th Feb 2011).
5) He tells Bankwest without consulting me they will get all their money back on 31st May (email 4. 19th March 2011). This deadline is impossible to achieve due to his subsequent actions but Bankwest insists that date is met. This action by Benari is the trigger of the receivership.
6) He confirms that his offer is to leave our family in same after tax position as the other offer (email 5. 8th April 2011).
7) I am told that Benari has received valuations for $14m (Valuers Burgess Rawson will confirm this) and Bank funding from NAB to purchase (this document was provided to Bankwest by Benari and could be called for).
8) He provides Deeds that don’t match what’s agreed. His accountant Laurie Lapsley will confirm they are not as agreed if required. If in any doubt whatsoever please contact him. His Lawyer Philip Pullinger of Allion Legal will also confirm.
9) He goes back to the previous purchasers without telling me (email 6. 31st May 2011) or Bankwest (tells us later), however those purchasers have brought elsewhere by now and can no longer purchase. Selling agents and Benaris solicitor could confirm this.
10) Again offers deal on terms not matching original agreement.
11) Then offers even less still being $13.3m Selling agents Burgess Rawson and CBRE can confirm, as could his Lawyer. If in any doubt whatsoever please contact them.
12) Bankwest appoint Receivers including over my building and hotel operating company which has co guaranteed the Butler / Benari loans.
13) Benari deals with receivers without informing me and buys The Lighthouse Hotel for $9.5m being $4.5m less than what he agreed just a few months before. Selling agents could confirm. We believe he has not acted in accordance with statutory directors duties.
14) Then refuses to return phone calls and emails over a 2 month period see evidence ( email 7. 27th February 2012). And I later find he has negotiated with the receivers to buy our property without informing me.
15) I receive a legal memo from my solicitors Jackson McDonald that in their solicitors opinion I have causes of action against Brian Benari for fraud or negligence, misleading and deceptive conduct, unjust enrichment and breach of fiduciary obligation. (See attached memo dated 23 March 2012).
16) Signs transfer of National Hotel for $3.6m (previously valued at over $7m and we had interest at that level as a JV when I was project managing it) without contacting me, in breach of any obligations as a business partner, even though I had partners willing to pay more. Taylor Wooding’s, my lawyer, that partner or selling agents could confirm.
17) Refuses to answer questions put to him regarding his honesty. (see email 7 )
18) Our profitable successful business has been ruined by dealings with this person, this was totally unnecessary and more of the story can be seen on my Senate Submissions at the Banking Inquiry or the You Tube video now released.
19) For a formal second opinion I have sent documents to Lawyer Stewart Levitt of Levitt Robinson Solicitors in Sydney and have received a prima facie view that claims against Benari for breach of fiduciary duty, being knowingly concerned in misleading and deceptive conduct and dishonesty as a company director under Chapter 2D of the Corporations Act would have reasonable prospects of success.
20) My Accountants HLB Mann Judd have advised me in their opinion Benari has breached directors duties and not acted honestly. They have said it’s a setup and a disgrace.
21) I have had advice from Ernst and Young that if Benari is convicted of these offences under Corporations Act (sect 180, 181, 182) he can’t be a director. They think case law will bring him down and they mention the business judgement rule… personal benefit etc.. Reckless behaviour for own benefit). They have said this is beyond doubt serious stuff especially for someone in Benaris position.
I mentioned my till now reluctance to Bring Brian Benari to public or other Company Board scrutiny but they said that I as a company Director have obligations to do all I can to preserve shareholder value and if this requires that I use all legal avenues to do so then I am obliged to take that action (in this case media, informing others (including other Boards) ASIC, Legal action etc).
22) Our Lawyers have requested disclosure of all communications between Benari and the Receivers, Bank and Selling agents. This request has to date been denied… (What has Benari got to hide). I again, in the interests of transparency and honesty, I have requested release of these documents but to date this request has been denied. What has he got to hide?
23) Benari has been asked directly “Could you please confirm that in your dealings with Bankwest (and others) in relation to the Lighthouse Beach Resort and the National Hotel you have at all times complied with your common law and statutory duties as a director and business partner.” To which he has replied on the 15th March 2012 “I am very confused as to what you are requesting and why.” This is an extraordinary answer from someone in his position.
Would you want this man looking after your business affairs?
His lawyers have threatened us with legal action if we tell others.
Is he a fit and proper person to be CEO of Challenger, the custodian of other people’s superannuation? Would you trust him with your superannuation after seeing what he has done to an honest loyal business partner that has made him millions?
He was reported to earn $ 10.8m in 2010 and $7m in 2011 being one of Australia’s highest paid Bankers, Should a person whose conduct is as above be in such a role?
I Trusted him in my business dealings and previously believed the was honest and ethical and I now regret this.
I write this as a warning to others
Trust him with your Job, Superannuation or investments?