Lawyer zeroes in on Gold Coast preacher

Brisbane Times, Australia/February 23, 2009

Queensland investors are preparing a claim to recoup part of their money after alleging failed property developer Glenn Phillip Duker owes some of them hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Mr Duker has filed for bankruptcy, so the investors are unable to sue the former fundamentalist church pastor and Gold Coast lawyer directly but must target their legal or financial advisers.

Lynda Swanston, of Gold Coast law firm Swanston and Associates, is examining contracts and other paperwork relating to legal and financial services by Mr Duker and others.

"If negligence against any of these professionals can be established, then damages for quantified loss and damage suffered by them may be payable, but usually only after legal proceedings have been ... brought to a successful conclusion," she said.

Mr Duker became one of Australia's worst bankrupts this month, owing at least $34 million, but the figure could rise to $40 million because, it is alleged, some debts he guaranteed personally do not appear on his bankruptcy notification.

He allegedly promised investors he would use their funds, which included second mortgages on their homes, to buy houses, subdivide land, move or build other houses, then sell for a profit, which he would split equally with them.

From 2002 to 2004, Mr Duker entered property ventures and other funding arrangements, mostly with members of his church, Revival Centres International, or their friends.

At least four Gold Coast residents were caught in Mr Duker's deals. Builder and former Australian Football League footballer Craig O'Brien, who now coaches the senior Palm Beach side, is reportedly owed $700,000.

Gold Coast property developer Lynette Orloff said she was owed more than $420,000.

It is claimed many of Mr Duker's debts were accrued after the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) dropped its action against Mr Duker, despite complaints by investors against him from as early as 2005. In 2007, ASIC reportedly accepted Mr Duker's promise to repay certain debts.

Michael Hayter, the lawyer for the liquidator of one of Mr Duker's companies, RVP Group, criticised ASIC for not taking action earlier.

An ASIC spokeswoman said ASIC would assess a report from a liquidator suggesting a company had breached the Corporations Act. She said ASIC would not comment on whether Mr Duker or any of his companies had ever been investigated. Mr Duker's wife, Lorilea said the couple did not wish to comment.

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