More details have emerged in the criminal case against a failed pub owner accused of tricking residents who invested in a failed billion-dollar property development.
More details have emerged in the criminal case against a failed pub owner accused of tricking residents who invested in a failed billion-dollar property development.

Pub boss facing $500k theft claim

A criminal case against a former pub owner accused of ripping off investors over a failed billion-dollar property development rests on accusations of four homeowners who claim they were duped into giving him $500,000, court documents reveal.

Ilija (Elli) Cakar, who once ran several Adelaide pubs including the former Royal Hotel at Kent Town, has pleaded not guilty to seven charges that he allegedly deceived residents at Thorngate, in Adelaide's inner north, and used their money for his personal gain.

According to the SA Police charge sheet, filed with the Adelaide Magistrates Court in March this year, it is alleged Cakar, 45, deceived the residents into giving him money for planning applications, architectural drawing and running costs for a so-called Thorngate Skywalk City project.

It was revealed last year the project was a $1.4 billion vision to transform a block of the suburb into a small metropolis - but it never went ahead.

It is alleged that the residents handed over the cash "on the basis" that Cakar would increase exclusive offers to buy their houses, which were among dozens within the footprint of the proposed development.

The initial concept design for the Thorngate Skywalk City project, once described by Prospect mayor David O’Loughlin as “preposterous”. Picture: Robert Warren Design, courtesy of Prospect Council
The initial concept design for the Thorngate Skywalk City project, once described by Prospect mayor David O’Loughlin as “preposterous”. Picture: Robert Warren Design, courtesy of Prospect Council

Police allege that Cakar deceived residents Marios Savvas and Andrea Stylianou out of $160,000, Chris Komninos out of $87,000 and Giovanni Ragnelli out of $260,000 in exchange for potentially higher sale prices.

The $507,000 is double the amount police initially accused Cakar of illegally pocketing when they arrested and charged him with four counts of deception and theft in October 2019. It is alleged Mr Ragnelli gave the money in exchange for his properties' potential sale value being increased from $3.55 million to $7 million.

Police allege that Cakar's deception happened between September 7, 2015, and October 10, 2016.

Initial designs for the Thorngate Skywalk City project showed a development of up to 20 storeys fronting Main North Road, including apartments, shops, a hotel and medical facilities.

Prospect Council and state co-ordinator general Jim Hallion were both briefed on the project but they said last year that no formal planning application was lodged.

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In 2016, residents' disquiet over a potential large-scale development of their suburb was revealed after neighbours signed contracts that gave Cakar the exclusive right to purchase their properties at up to six times the market value if the project went ahead.

Cakar is former director of pub company Entertainment Venues Australia, which collapsed last July after a year of trade owing millions to creditors. Among its venuesI re were the Royal Hotel, Glenelg Pier Hotel and Propaganda Club in the city.

The criminal trial against Cakar is listed for September 25 in the District Court.

 

Originally published as Police accuse ex-pub boss of $500k rip off



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