The man behind Australian concert promoters McManus Entertainment has been implicated in a series of questionable activities after he was allegedly found to be the owner of a lost bag containing $702,000 cash.
Andrew McManus, the titular head of the company responsible for recent Australian tours for Aerosmith, Kris Kristofferson, and forthcoming visits from UB40 and Yes, has allegedly admitted to Police he’s been avoiding paying tax, withholding payments from bands (including Fleetwood Mac), borrowing money from criminal figures, and laundering cash through associates, in a story that’s got all the makings of a ‘strange but true’ tale.
According to Sydney Morning Herald, it all begins with a police investigation into the mysterious owner of a bag containing $702,000 in cash.
NSW officers obtained the bag from one Sean Carolan – a personal trainer turned cage fighter – back in August, 2011 after receiving a tip-off that he was in possession of a firearm. Instead of finding the gun, they found the bag of cash, which Mr. Carolan has been attempting to seize back in a NSW Supreme Court case.
The same case referred to documents of a 2012 NSW Police interview with Melbourne businessman Andrew McManus, with the concert promoter claiming ownership of the $700K bag, which was intended to repay a deposit for an American tour to the management of ZZ Top. Strap in, it gets weirder. The police interview also saw the concert promoter making “extraordinary admissions…”
The $700k was to go to ZZ Top via Owen Hanson Jnr, with McManus telling Police that he used a third party “because, when my company, Andrew McManus Presents, was going under, I needed friends;” referring to his company facing financial turmoil last September.
The SMH report, which seems to be based on a transcript of the NSW Police interview, says Mr Hanson Jnr had received the bag of money via McManus’ unidentified right-hand man, with the promoter refusing to tell Police the identity of the individual as “he’s like my brother.”
The police interview also saw the former Divinyls manager making “extraordinary admissions,” including his part in the Rugby league scandal involving the salary cap of Melbourne Storm players, using his company to channel illegal payments to rugby league players.” The Police were told by McManus that he’d been fined up to $120,000 per Melbourne Storm Player by the Australian Taxation Office, “which totalled $2.4 million … it crushed my company Andrew McManus Presents International.”
The 2012 interview also saw McManus telling police how he had used 20 or 30 tour crew members to bring in quantities of $10,000 cash per person when his company was presenting shows in New Zealand. “We’ll bring back $150,000 to $200,000 each year,” he said. “I then sneak that back through the crew.”
The promoter also said he sold concert tickets to friends but kept the money for himself; “I’m not sharing it with the band … the cash stays in Andrew Mcmanus’ pocket,” he said, also boasting to Police about proceeds he’d attained from a Lenny Kravitz concert. “If you [go] to my house right now, there’s a safe there with about 600 large sittin’ in it.” “This is not going anywhere? …What I’m saying to you is, if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again.”
Others who helped Mr McManus with money for his business, he reveals in the interview, included prominent Liberal Party powerbroker Michael Kroger and his brother Andrew, as well as David Lowy, son of shopping centre businessman Frank Lowy.
“I’d prefer you not to put [in] Michael Kroger … but he’s done it for me six or seven times,” McManus told NSW Police, saying Mr Kroger would “put cash in and then I’ll, you know, fold it out.”
The Aussie promoter was also quoted as asking “This is not going anywhere? …What I’m saying to you is, if this went to the ATO, I’d be cooked again.”
The police investigation into the missing bag of cash is ongoing, with presiding judge Justice Richard Button calling the case a “most extraordinary occurrence”.