EXCLUSIVE INVESTIGATION: A convicted fraudster who once faked his CV so he could unlawfully obtain almost $6 million from high-profile victims and banks is at the centre of a police investigation after being tossed out from running a trendy Sydney pub for failing to pay rent and allegedly stealing tens of thousands of dollars owed to bands from ticket sales to live music events.
He spent almost four years in a New Zealand prison less than a decade ago for a sophisticated yet brazen multi-million dollar fraud that went on for two years, and which included NRL football players among its victims, but it seems Australian con man and wannabe high-flier, Scott Alwyn Mackenzie, may not have learned his lesson despite the hard time done in Kiwi cells.
The disgraced 38-year-old property manager turned businessman is once again back in the headlines for all the wrong reasons, and this time he has a motley crew of punk bands and heavy metal fans baying for blood after helping trash the reputation of one of Sydney’s best loved pubs and music venues within less than a year of taking over.
Located in Leichhardt in the city’s inner-west, the Bald Faced Stag Hotel, known as a live music mainstay, has a history dating back almost 200 years and is particularly popular for lovers of punk rock and heavy metal.
This week though, the landlords of the establishment, Marvan Hotels, took the unusual step of publicly announcing that it had kicked out the pub’s management, Ulladulla Property Services Pty Ltd, over a number of serious issues.
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“Ulladulla Property Services was evicted from the Stag Hotel last week due to arrears in rent and concerns raised from other sources,” Marvan Hotels said in a statement.
“It’s of concern that Ulladulla Property Services did not meet its obligations to suppliers and particularly bands who are the lifeblood of the venue.”
The “general manager” of Ulladulla Property Services just happens to be the aforementioned Mr Mackenzie.
True Crime News Weekly has discovered that 13 businesses have been created to trade under the Ulladulla Property Services Pty Ltd banner since 2014. They include ‘Bald Faced Stag Sydney’ and ‘Stag Music Touring Australia’, which was closed down as a business just a few weeks ago on January 6. Suburban houses in Corrimal near Wollongong and in Leichhardt are listed as key addresses of businesses linked to the company.
Mr Mackenzie – who is also the operator of The Full Bronte cafe in Sydney’s glitzy eastern suburbs and the Lobby cafe at the Calvary Hospital – has previously been jailed after setting up a string of businesses named after legitimate companies supplying maintenance services to companies he has been involved with and then stealing over $1.5 million through the use of fake invoices.
In an exclusive story on January 24 in The Music, it was announced that Ulladulla Property Services was arrears in rent to Marvan Hotels and had also been allegedly ripping off the musical acts it had been booking for the Bald Faced Stag since it took over managing the pub just last year in March 2017.
According to reports, countless bands are owed thousands of dollars for performance fees and ticket sales, with some like popular American hardcore group The Dillinger Escape Plan thought to be owed $40,000 from ticket pre-sales. Melbourne punk rock band The Peep Tempel are believed to be owed $10,000.
Others have taken to social media to state that they are also owed significant amounts of cash. Promoter Ben Veniamin posted on Facebook that he was owed thousands of dollars for a gig which took place mid last year and has also queried whether Marvan Hotels will now pay the money owed to performers and suppliers in light of the actions of Ulladulla Property Services.
“I’m still owed $4k for the Angelcorpse gig last July,” Mr Veniamin wrote.
The progressive instrumental group Genetics have also confirmed they are owed money for a gig performed at the venue last year.
A search by True Crime News Weekly has discovered that complaints about a lack of payment to bands and contractors stretch back months.
“Heard you don’t pay your musos,” wrote one user over Google Reviews last year.
“Is this true? I’d give you a 0 but can’t.”
There were also similar comments made on the Bald Faced Stag’s official Facebook page last November.
“Apparently they don’t pay their contractors so fuck this place,” wrote one unhappy punter on November 2, 2017.
Back in April last year however, Mr Mackenzie and his partner and co-publican, Kristy Clark, were media darlings for a short while after they announced a decision to remove poker machines from the venue in a bid to create a larger space for bands to perform.
The couple received favourable attention from local papers, music press, the food & drink media and even national television, with Channel Seven’s Weekend Sunrise show interviewing Mr Mackenzie about their decision to go pokie free.
“There’s a huge gap in the market at the moment for decent live music venues,” Mr Mackenzie told the breakfast program at the time.
However, it seems that under his stewardship of the Bald Faced Stag, that gap for “decent live music venues” only seemingly grew larger and larger. But it wasn’t the first time Mr Mackenzie had sold a dream to punters which later turned out to be a serious dud.
It was back in 2005 when Mr Mackenzie moved across the Tasman from Australia to New Zealand. Looking for a new lease on life and direction in his career, the wily operator gained himself a role as a property manager in an Auckland company operated by high-profile New Zealand businessmen, Eric Watson and Mark Hotchin. He had wiggled his way into the position with Omara Property Group after using a CV full of fake credentials.
Soon after starting in the job in March 2006, Mr Mackenzie then set up three companies – CC Construction, Ward New Zealand and Matassa – named after actual companies providing genuine services to Omara.
For almost two years, he then created and submitted invoices for work apparently done by his companies but did not supply any service in return.
Over a 22-month period, he used 129 false invoices to get NZ$1.6 million paid into the three companies he incorporated and controlled for the purposes of the long running scam. Of the total amount scammed, $140,000 was paid to Mr Mackenzie by AMS Holding Ltd, which is owned by former New Zealand NRL rugby league players Stacey Jones, Monty Betham and Awen Guttenbeil.
Mr Mackenzie, who is known to go by the alias of Scot McKenzie, also used forged documents to obtain NZ$3.6 million in loans from the Bank of New Zealand to buy six properties.
Another scam involved filing false GST returns to defraud the the Inland Revenue Department of NZ$509,000.
His ongoing con was only cottoned onto in August 2008 after his superiors at the Omara group queried a $24,750 invoice from one of Mackenzie’s companies, CC Construction.
Management thought there might be an issue because the invoice asked for electronic payment, rather than a cheque.
The bank account quoted on the invoice also matched an account based in Auckland, not in Christchurch where Omara believed the real CC Construction had its headquarters.
It was then that New Zealand’s Serious Fraud Office began investigating Mr Mackenzie’s financial activities.
In August 2009, Mr Mackenzie was sentenced to three years and eight months imprisonment after pleading guilty to 10 charges of obtaining by deception in a fraud worth NZ$5.7 million.
During his sentencing, Auckland District Court, Judge Ian Thomas said the offending should be regarded as “serious commercial fraud”.
The court heard that Mr Mackenzie had only paid back his employer $122,000 while six of the properties he had fraudulently acquired were sold but they received $780,000 less than their purchase price because of a downturn in the market at the time.
It was determined that $2.8 million of the amount defrauded by Mr Mackenzie was still unaccounted for and lost.
During his trial, Mr Mackenzie’s defence counsel, Chris Comeskey, claimed to the court the con man wanted the money “not to live the high life, but to provide security for his family”.
His lawyer also claimed that Mackenzie’s father “went out of his life at a young age and left him without money”. As such, it was claimed that Mr Mackenzie’s actions were motivated by “the view early on that financial insecurity should be avoided at all costs”. It’s a pity then that such sentiments weren’t afforded by Mr Mackenzie to the hard-working bar staff, bands and others he has allegedly ripped off over the past 10 months.
True Crime News Weekly contacted Marvan Hotels this week to ask whether it was the victim of a fraud perpetrated by a sophisticated criminal. The hotel company is led by well-known Sydney publican Marcus Levy, who also owns “the Westmead Hotel, Evening Star Hotel, the Sea Breeze Hotel in Nelson Bay and the The Flynn in Sydney’s CBD” according to an AFR article last January about the $36 million sale of the hotel group’s Lidcombe Hotel in Sydney’s west.
A spokesperson for Marvan Hotels told True Crime News Weekly that it seemed Mr Mackenzie’s management of the hotel was “a scam from day one”.
“It looks like he used fraudulent bond documents to gain the lease and he’s then been getting out of paying suppliers but just handing out enough to keep the scam going as long as possible,” one source said.
“The hotel owners have notified the police as it looks like he is nothing but a criminal.”
NSW Police has been contacted for comment.
In an earlier statement, the hotel group confirmed it would take over the day-to-day management of the pub and live music venue for the foreseeable future.
“The Bald Faced Stag Hotel will currently be run by its landlord who has a proven track record of managing the hotel between 2015 to 2017,” the statement reads.
“Whilst under new management, all future suppliers obligations will be met and The Bald Faced Stag Hotel looks forward to a renewed relationship with the music industry.”
Mr Mackenzie was contacted by True Crime News Weekly to provide comment for this story but no response was forthcoming.