Joe Antoun has left 11 unit owners in the lurch after forging papers to finance a now-crumbling apartment block.
Joe Antoun has left 11 unit owners in the lurch after forging papers to finance a now-crumbling apartment block.

Staggering cost of fixing slain gangster’s $2.6m unit block

Fair Trading officers are investigating whether a townhouse development that is going to cost more to fix than it did to build should have been certified as fit for people to live in.

The Marrickville complex was built by slain standover man Joe Antoun and the Supreme Court has found that documents which named another builder were forged so that Antoun and his brother could get bank finance and insurance.

The court case revealed a staggering $3,425,583 list of building defects which have devastated the owners of the 11 units who discovered they had no warranty insurance because of the forged papers.

Joe Antoun, who was gunned down at the doorstep of his Strathfield home.
Joe Antoun, who was gunned down at the doorstep of his Strathfield home.

The building on Livingstone Road cost $2.65 million to build and was issued an occupation certificate in December 2012 by certifiers Greenfield Accredited Certifiers, the court heard.

The employee of GAC, who certified the building as fit for occupation, has denied any wrongdoing. The company has since been deregistered.

Drug dealer and corrupt businessman Joe Antoun, 50, was shot dead outside his Strathfield home in 2013 by two former members of Brothers for Life.

The owners of the units sued builder Tony Saaib, whose name was on the warranty insurance, and insurance and finance broker Irena Alexandrova.

Justice Patricia Henry found that Mr Saaib had done none of the work and his nephew Willian Zaatini, 48, had forged his signature on documents including the contract with Nemer Antoun's development company Transformer Group.

The court was told that approved building plans were for cavity brick walls and concrete floors but it was built of brick veneer and what were supposed to be brick walls between the units were plasterboard. Instead of concrete, the first floor, internal stairs and balconies were made out of timber, according to evidence tendered in court.

Just some of the damage on the internal walls in Lara Smith’s apartment in the Livingstone Rd block. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Just some of the damage on the internal walls in Lara Smith’s apartment in the Livingstone Rd block. Picture: Gaye Gerard

The expert report said there was a fire risk with external walls not fire rated or inadequately fire rated and inadequate fire separation between a number of the units as well as a fire hose not being correctly installed.

There are also electrical problems and some walls are not plumb.

The Supreme Court found the building was developed by Transformer Group and built by Joe Antoun's Award Build. Both companies have since been deregistered. Neither of them was sued.

The judge found that Ms Alexandrova, 61, was liable for the cost of rectifying the problems because she had misled the insurance brokers.

"No one has ever questioned the validity of the certification," the certifier, 59, told The Daily Telegraph.

Lara Smith said there were numerous leaks in her unit just two months after moving in. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Lara Smith said there were numerous leaks in her unit just two months after moving in. Picture: Gaye Gerard

"I was only involved at the end of the job. I went there when the building was just about finished. I was released from the court proceedings because I had no case to answer."

He said another employee of GAC had certified the earlier construction certificate in 2009.

NSW Fair Trading said there had been three complaints made against the certifier involving three developments around that time.

One of the complaints resulted in a disciplinary action and he was cautioned in 2010, the other two were dismissed. In the wake of the scathing court decision, Fair Trading said it was reviewing the certification.

Some of the rotting exterior beams in the block. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Some of the rotting exterior beams in the block. Picture: Gaye Gerard

Renter Lara Smith moved into the development in May last year and said just two months later numerous leaks in the building emerged.

"Every time it rains we now have to move all of our belongings out of the living room entirely," she said.

The damage caused by water includes a corner of the ceiling in the living room which has since cracked open, extensive mould over the walls while exterior beams on the awning in her backyard appear rotten and sagging.

"We told the real estate agent who sent people out to fix it. But because the problem was outside they said it was a strata issue," she said.

"They said the owner can't fix it because it was on the exterior.

"They have just handballed it off to the strata and the strata committee won't fix it because they had a court case going on."

A NSW Fair Trading spokeswoman said that the existence on site of a noncompliance is not in itself evidence of 'unsatisfactory professional conduct' by a certifier.

"Fair Trading is reviewing this matter," the spokesman said.

"Matters are individually assessed and the compliance response will depend on the circumstances of each individual case."

Originally published as Staggering cost of fixing slain gangster's $2.6m unit block

Nemer Antoun
Nemer Antoun
Some of the water damage and mould on the inside of Ms Smith’s unit. Picture: Gaye Gerard
Some of the water damage and mould on the inside of Ms Smith’s unit. Picture: Gaye Gerard


‘Utterly outrageous’: Senator joins ‘Gympie Pyramid’ fight

Premium Content ‘Utterly outrageous’: Senator joins ‘Gympie Pyramid’ fight

Greens Senator Larissa Waters visited the ‘Gympie Pyramid’, proposing an “easy fix”...

A $1.89m ‘living’ lab set to help fireproof Noosa

Premium Content A $1.89m ‘living’ lab set to help fireproof Noosa

A hi-tech laboratory will be built in stages throughout the Noosa region...

VC hero fronts Qld colleagues after expletive-riddled spray

Premium Content VC hero fronts Qld colleagues after expletive-riddled spray

Ben Roberts-Smith fronts colleagues after ‘smiling assassins’ leak