Once-youngest billionaire faces fickle fortunes

Once-youngest billionaire faces fickle fortunes
One of the two grand-sized homes that he rents at Swettenham Road, in the Dempsey area.

For the last two years, former coal baron Nathan Tinkler has lived a quiet and private life here in Singapore, lost among the other millionaires and their lazy lunches at Dempsey Road.

But that is unlikely to continue.

Once Australia's youngest billionaire at 35, with an estimated nett worth of about A$1.13 billion (S$1.3b), Mr Tinkler, who moved to Singapore in 2012 with his family, has seen his fortunes dwindle.

Now 38, he has an estimated nett wealth of under A$18 million, according to Australian business magazine Business Weekly Review.

Sports clubs he bought with gusto in 2011 are on the verge of being yanked away from him. Simply put, he allegedly failed to pay the bills.

In Australia, his name has been regularly popping up in a corruption probe that has implicated politicians, their friends and Mr Tinkler himself.

A former Labor party Member of Parliament for Newcastle claimed that Mr Tinkler and another MP had tried to undermine her by running a smear campaign in her ward.

The Australian reported that Ms Jodi McKay made the claims during an Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) on Thursday. She claimed that Mr Tinkler had tried to buy her support by offering to bankroll her campaign.

He allegedly wanted support for a development plan.

While Mr Tinkler had been named as a witness by ICAC, the commission did not suggest that he had acted corruptly, reported Sky News.

But now there are Ms McKay's allegations. She said she rejected the offer, but the smear campaign may have led to her defeat in the 2011 election.

Even senior politicians have been dragged in.

The Commission had earlier heard claims that former New South Wales (NSW) state energy minister Chris Hartcher had tried to secure illegal donations from Mr Tinkler through Mr Hartcher's adviser, reported Sydney Morning Herald (SMH).

To channel the donations, Mr Hartcher's adviser had allegedly set up a sham business to source for funds.

One of the sources in the funds-for-favours allegation involved Mr Tinkler's property development group, Buildev.

SMH reported that property developers have been banned from donating to political parties in NSW since December 2009.

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