The Australian media are all carrying the sad story of lawyer-turned-surfwear-and-IT-entrepreneur Matthew Perrin, who racked up A$1.7 million in gambling debts last year before his financial world collapsed around him.
Among the debts of the high-flying Billabong exec is A$ 800 000 owed to Centrebet boss, Con Kafataris; A$300 000 owed to bookie Frank Hudson and A$160 000 to one of Victoria's biggest bookmakers, Alan Eskander.
The Sydney Morning Herald reports that Perrin has left a A$28.2 million trail of unpaid bills to 20 unsecured creditors, including Chinese finance company CITIC Capital, according to the statement of affairs that he signed when he filed for bankruptcy on Tuesday.
Four of these creditors, including CITIC, were multi-million-dollar loans secured against Perrin's investment in a Chinese supermarket business, Global Mart, and other property development deals that have soured.
In 2008 Perrin faced debts of A$113 million, and just before Christmas he started selling off assets that included racehorses. He paid back $10 million loaned by motorbike racing champion Mick Doohan's parents and repaid margin loans to Macquarie Bank and Adelaide Equity Finance. The newspaper reports that this year Perrin has been living off his American Express card and two Mastercards, racking up A$82 000 in two months.
Most bookies have written off Perrin's debt after learning he was bankrupt. "It's case closed," said Sportsbet's chief executive, Matthew Tripp, who is owed A$140 000. "We've shut the book on it."
Perrin's gambling debts pale in comparison to the $13.5 million he owes the Commonwealth Bank. He borrowed the money last year against a $4.3 million Mermaid Beach condo.
He now says all he has left is a laptop worth A$100, a A$200 watch, A$3 000 worth of clothes and A$30 000 cash. He also has shares worth A$1 400. His A$130 000 Mercedes coupe is sitting in a Gold Coast car dealership.
Despite making his fortune running a surfwear company, Perrin preferred to be down at the racetrack, the SMH reports.
Racing insiders said his gambling and horseracing activities increased after he made A$66 million selling two-thirds of his Billabong stake in 2002.
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