Investors face $100m loss

ONE-time Byron Bay identity Dr Roger Munro is undergoing an intense grilling in Queensland courts over the failure of his international investment scheme which could see investors, including some from the North Coast, losing up to $100 million.

A Sydney newspaper claimed one long-standing and respected Byron Bay businessman alone stood to lose many millions of dollars.

Other Byron Bay businessmen are also believed to have heavily invested money in the scheme, which they also stand to lose.

Dr Munro, whose company RG Munro Futures Pty Ltd is in liquidation, was quizzed about his assets by the liquidator's legal representatives in the Brisbane Magistrates Court last week.

The examination was adjourned and is expected to continue later this month.

Dr Munro's previous court appearance was in the Queensland Supreme Court last December, which heard that he was being treated by a psychiatrist for anxiety and depression and he was “acutely suicidal”.

A report lodged with the court by his psychiatrist says Dr Munro had taken the responsibility of the losses of his clients' money and of his family's money heavily.

He had said he would rather “disappear” than face his clients and family, the report says.

Long-time Northern Rivers residents may remember Dr Munro's involvement in the ill-fated and controversial Cape Byron International Academy venture in the 1980s and early 1990s.

He acted as a consultant to Hixson Holdings, the company behind the planned academy which was headed by millionaire German businessman Kurt Schaefer, who became an Australian citizen after moving to Byron Bay in the early 1980s.

The planned $80 million academy was going to be built on a prime 111ha Seven Mile Beach site now occupied by the luxury Linnaeus Estate development.

The academy project was declared “dead” in 1991 after Hixson Holdings' joint venture partner, Girvan Corporation, collapsed.

There had been widespread opposition to the academy plan and the project had come under the attention of the Independent Commission Against Corruption (ICAC) during a probe into North Coast land dealings in 1989, in which Dr Munro was a central figure.

ICAC's interest in the Cape Byron International Academy stemmed from an allegation the developers had misled the relevant public authorities and had obtained development approval for a tourism project under the guise of an educational project. The developers were subsequently cleared of allegations of misrepresentation.

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