$17m Bennett farm play scuttled

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Neale PriorThe West Australian
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An $17 million-plus million rural property deal involving a son of iron ore billionaire Angela Bennett is in shreds after financiers put receivers into a key intermediary company.

Grant Bennett's private investment company GKB Global Property Pty Ltd will now have to take part in a receivership auction next month if it is to secure almost 1400 hectares of prime farm land near Boddington.

Mr Bennett had agreed to buy the adjoined farms from Victoria Park-based company Strategic Investment & Trading Pty Ltd for $17.53 million in back-to-back purchase deals organised last year by troubled rural property dealer Michael King.

The deal, which had extended settlement terms, was to have provided Strategic a bumper profit given it had just bought the properties from farmers Richard and Janette Kelsall for $10.7 million on extended payment terms.

Mr King had revealed the Bennett transaction and his expected $3.5 million cut to the Federal Magistrates Court in February while unsuccessfully trying to fight off an unrelated bankruptcy action by wealthy farm investor Maddeliene Caratti.

However, the Bennett sale appears to have been scuttled by Sydney-based short-term financiers JWH Nominees appointing Deloitte insolvency accountants as receivers of Strategic and seizing the Boddington properties.

JWH had provided Strategic with finance this year with an interest rate of 30 per cent in return for gaining mortgages over the Brookton farms, which are subdividable and already held in 10 separate lot parcels.

Strategic Investment director Robert Carlhausen said yesterday Deloitte had cancelled the sale agreement despite Mr Bennett having time left to settle.

Mr Carlhausen said Mr Bennett had not provided a guarantee for Strategic's loan but had given the financier assurances the purchase would go through. The properties are to be offered for sale at an auction on December 12, with Deloitte ordering they cannot be sold beforehand.

Neither Mr King, Mr Bennett nor Deloitte receivers could be contacted yesterday.

The major fraud squad hit Mr King with six charges last month over other alleged dealings.

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