Conman takes company

WHEN local man Lindsay Clarke’s business partner unexpectedly took off to New Zealand leaving him with a large debt, he decided to do the right thing.

It would have been easy for Mr Clarke to throw in the towel and apply for bankruptcy protection, but he decided to try and trade his way out of difficulty so all debts could be repaid in full.

He had previously meet Paul McMahon through McMahon’s brother John and father Terry –‘an absolute gem of a man’.

At the time Paul McMahon had expressed an interest in purchasing some of Mr Clarke’s landholdings around Casino and Lismore.

“We went to Paul to get help,” Mr Clarke told The Northern Star. “He said he had investment funds and he would give us some financial help.” It was a decision Mr Clarke regrets to this day.

Paul Joseph McMahon was sentenced to six years’ jail, with a non-parole period of four years, after he pleaded guilty to a string of charges of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception and attempting to obtain a financial advantage by deception.

These charges related to identity theft, including those of children, and fraudulent claims to the Australian Tax Office.

In sentencing McMahon, Judge Robyn Tupman said they were ‘sophisticated cases of fraud’, describing McMahon as ‘a very intelligent man’.

Judge Tupman said McMahon ‘went for the jugular’ once he realised Mr Clarke was intent on repaying debtors, rather than enriching themselves.

Like many of the businesspeople The Northern Star has spoken to since McMahon was sentenced, Mr Clarke is wary about saying too much in print.

Mr Clarke described what happened next in point form.

McMahon fraudulently developed company minutes and issued 1000 shares in two companies to himself without the knowledge of Mr Clarke, who was the sole director.

The con man then demanded his second wife, Lyndsey Rawling, be appointed as a director in a third company, which allowed McMahon to issue themselves another 99 shares, further diluting Mr Clarke’s stake in the company to a minor shareholder.

Again, more minutes were produced and hurriedly lodged with the Australian Investments and Securities Commission without Mr Clarke’s knowledge.

By July 6, 2008, Mr Clarke no longer owned his companies. He has since lodged full statements with Casino police and ASIC.

It is understood documents, including phone records, in the procession of police and ASIC show Mr Clarke could not have attended the company meetings.

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