LAN Bond*, the disgraced billionaire who landed in prison for fraud and is still banned from being a company director in Australia, is attempting to revive his City career.
Bond is behind three separate diamond, gold and oil flotations* that are being planned for London over the next year.
The 65-year-old is putting the finishing touches to a prospectus* for an African diamond company, Lesotho Diamond Corp, in which his family has a 30% stake.
He aims to float it in March while two other listings, involving gold projects in Tanzania and oil interests in Madagascar, are also planned.
Bond, winner of the 1983 America’s Cup, the pinnacle of competitive sailing, said he was targeting ‘high net* worth individuals, brokers and institutions* in the UK’ rather than banks, and expects the diamond float to raise more than $50m (£28.1m).
‘We’re not borrowing any money, we’re being funded by capital funding and cash generation,’ Bond told The Australian Financial Review.
Lesotho claims to have the rights to the Kao kimberlite pipe, which is said to contain diamonds conservatively valued at $3.6bn although some experts say the deposits are hampered by poor access.
Bond, who sold his 10-bedroom Kensington mansion to Conrad Black in 1992 for an estimated £3.5m, was jailed for corporate fraud after his sprawling Bond Corp empire crumbled more than a decade ago.
He has been living in London since his release from prison in March 2000 and still has more than a year to serve on his five-year ban in Australia on becoming a director. But attempts to resurrect his career in London have met with limited success.
He was a key player in the failed cheque-cashing and foreign exchange company, The Money Centre, in London. The venture went into receivership in March last year, owing more than £1m.
Bond refused to discuss the float of Lesotho until the prospectus was released in London.
It is understood the Bond family will control their shares in the company through an offshore trust controlled by his son, Craig, also on the Lesotho Diamond Corp board.
The family’s penchant for complicated networks of offshore trusts frustrated Australian regulators trying to track down millions of missing dollars in investigations during the 1990s.
‘Craig has part of that in his own name and then he’s the beneficiary of the trust that was set up to hold the balance,’ Bond said.
Bond is in Perth on holiday but said he had moved to London to get around the ban on him being a director in Australia.
However, he is not a director of Lesotho and said he is listed in the prospectus as a consultant. ‘Obviously I’ll be getting fees,’ he said.
Bond told the paper little about the other projects, but said he was excited by the Madagascar project. ‘A huge thing it is, a bloody monster,’ he said.
He said the other two floats would have similar levels of Bond family ownership to Lesotho.
The son of a Welsh miner, Ealing-born Bond emigrated to Australia at 13. A millionaire at 25, he went on to become a national hero through his America’s Cup yachting victory in 1983. A decade later, though, he had earned another title – Australia’s biggest fraudster.
In 1996, after being sentenced to three years for the fraudulent purchase of a Manet for his £100m art collection, he was back in the dock for his involvement in Australia’s biggest-ever fraud, centring on a A$1bn loan to his Bond Corporation from Bell Resources. He served four years in the maximum security Casuarina prison.
At the height of his powers in the 1980s he was the epitome of corporate excess. In Britain, he owned Glympton, next to Woodstock in the Cotswolds, had the obligatory private jet, two yachts and mansions in Perth, Sydney and London.
His Bond Corporation, owner of Castlemaine and Swan beers, built a 20% stake in Tiny Rowland’s Lonrho group, leading to a power struggle. There was an 11% stake in Allied Lyons, stakes in TV-am and British Satellite Broadcasting.
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