THE combined resources of the Australian finance industry have been on a four-day mission to track down details of the mysterious Scottish man, John Edgar, who was behind last week’s $1.7 billion proposal to buy David Jones. But it is a fashion model who has emerged as the only one who has verified having business dealings with him.
Mr Edgar dumped his proposal to buy the department store chain yesterday blaming the recent publicity over the deal. This included revelations in The Age of questionable businesses and labyrinth-like links to shelf and asset-devoid companies in Britain and Australia.
The model, now based in Sydney, told The Age: ”I have had dealings with both John and Ellen’s Brands in 20050 when I was contracted to model his products for a ”large Australian department store”, adding she was surprised to read the story about his purchase of David Jones.
Questions about Mr Edgar this week centred heavily on his ability to finance the purchase of David Jones. The model said it took her a year and two legal threats before Mr Edgar paid her the £700 owed for the fashion shoot.
One of the few consistent features found in the snippets of Mr Edgar’s business history is the link to the sale of alcoholic beverages.
The slender blonde said her part in the photo shoot for which she had been hired by Mr Edgar involved modelling lingerie, alcohol and perfume for his company Ellen’s Brands. She noted the intimate apparel had been bought from a discount High Street retailer, Primark and the alcohol and perfume bottles were all major brands but emptied with the labels removed.
She said she was perplexed about why for the menswear section of a department store shoot Mr Edgar had a ”Page 3” topless model wearing what appeared to be his ”large and unbuttoned shirts”.
”When I questioned him about why menswear was being advertised on women, and how a topless girl was appropriate for shop-front advertising we were under the impression we were shooting, he told me men wanted to see ‘hot young girls wearing their shirts’.”
Mr Edgar used an Edinburgh domiciled ”company” EB Private Equity to make his offer for DJs. But searches revealed it was unregistered in Britain.
David Jones and its advisers were unable to satisfy themselves of the company’s bonafides but were forced to alert investors to the proposal when a ”pop up” blogger revealed details of the offer, which were quickly found by the media.
In a conversation with The Age on Sunday night, a nervous and hesitant Mr Edgar insisted his company had been involved in large property projects, but refused to name any of them, saying only that they were in the US and Africa.
Meanwhile, his only well-publicised business venture involved his Luxury Beverage Company, which claimed to be marketing a $5.3 million jewel-encrusted bottle of non-alcoholic drink to the Islamic market.
Investigations of the EB Private Equity site using the company’s domain address brought up several UK companies including Mimu Ltd, Goodinvestor Ltd and Marshall McNair – all of which have been dissolved.
An Australian chapter of Ellen’s Brands was established in Darwin 10 years ago but has since disappeared. Mr Edgar’s fellow director on that board, a retired accountant, William MacDonald, told The Age he had never met Mr Edgar and knew nothing about what the company did.
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