More details emerge of Pilbara property developer’s $190m ‘Ponzi scheme’

A Pilbara property developer accused of running what might be a $190 million Ponzi scheme plans to charge investors about $180 to attend a Perth function updating them on the business.

Veronica Macpherson has invited investors and stakeholders to attend a dinner in Ascot this month, saying the proceeds will help preserve their interests and maintain her Macro Realty Developments’ customer services.

In August, the Federal Court ordered a freeze on Ms Macpherson’s assets, and those of companies associated with the property developments.

An Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation alleges local and offshore investors have poured up to $190 million into what may be an “unlawful Ponzi scheme”. Ms Macpherson has not yet filed a defence and the matter does not return to court until December.

She urges invitees in a letter dated Monday to encourage an affiliate or someone else to attend the dinner on their behalf if they cannot make it.

“All proceeds will go towards maintaining our communication, customer service and the exit strategy for some of our key development projects and future Pilbara investors,” the letter says.

“The information presented will provide a complete history of the projects you have been involved in and the proposed solutions.”

Tickets to the three-course dinner and drinks at the International on the Water Hotel cost $183.75, while a package including overnight accommodation is going for $418.95.

The dinner comes after Ms Macpherson continues to conduct investor tours of the Pilbara. The court orders prevent her from giving financial services advice or promoting financial products.

She tells dinner invitees she will respond to “inaccurate” media stories and discuss the ASIC investigation.

She attributes figures quoted by the ASIC probe to claims made to the agency by an alleged blackmailer and blames Macro’s problems on a seven-month delay in deciding the fate of a BHP Billiton mine workers camp in Newman.

Macro’s flagship project is the Newman Estate development. Two-hundred of the estate’s 240 lots have been under the control of receivers FTI Consulting since April.

ASIC alleges the returns of up to 20 per cent Ms Macpherson offered to investors came from new rounds of investors rather than profits.

She has denied the Ponzi scheme allegations, telling investors their real estate investments were backed by tangible assets.

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