Gramercy Group — Michael Gale
Below are some of the techniques Gale employed to delay and avoid proceedings against him:
1. Initially, when you ask for a loan to be repaid or fees owed to you, etc., his approach is to provide personal assurances that it will be repaid soon – but always relying on an external event to happen, which is always just around the corner, ie. a capital raising, proceeds from a deal about to close, proceeds from a transaction about to happen, a big fee payment coming, etc.
2. As you get more frustrated, and more aggressive, he will still continue to appeal to your better sense of fairness, and he will try and manipulate you to give him the benefit of the doubt. He will freely act as if he’s being completely transparent, offering to let you speak directly to others, or more often than not – forwarding you meaningless documents, email, Heads of Agreement or Term Sheets to indicate that “it really is just about to happen, and you just need to wait”. I can assure you, none of it will come to anything.
3. When you finally get down to sending him Letters of Demand, etc., he will start to try and get you to doubt yourself by whatever means possible, by implying you agreed something else in a conversation, or that you could expose yourself to damages if you upset the current deal in process (Martin Cooper loves beating this drum), and somehow tries to make you think that you’re being too aggressive, and if you continue, you’ll end up getting nothing.
4. When you realise this is all another smokescreen, and you push the button on legal proceedings, this is where he really starts to go into delusional and compulsive lie telling, and employing whatever means necessary to delay or frustrate the process.
5. Initially, he may attempt to reach a “Settlement Agreement” with you. Don’t be fooled by this. This is just another blocking tactic intended to delay and avoid paying. It will buy him more time. Do not expect him to honour any obligations under the Settlement Deed apart from perhaps the initial payment, if required.
6. The Settlement Agreement (which he won’t honour) will buy him another 6 to 12 months of avoiding going to court. But when you do commence proceedings, these are just some of the things he did once we started Court action:
He became completely unavailable to receive service of proceedings, with all his known addresses being mail boxes, or transient rental offices, etc.
Even when you track him down physically, corner him and put the documents on his person and say “you have been served”, he will let the documents drop to the ground and walk away. He will then send an email to you, cc’ing his and your lawyers, saying he is not avoiding service, and you can send to his address in (insert name of new location) which again will be another mailbox. Again – all this is designed to simply delay and avoid, but he continues to try and build a paper-trail of being available, transparent and conciliatory.
Once you actually serve him (which is a massive undertaking in itself), he will immediately claim that he wasn’t properly served or that there is something wrong with the service documents.
If you can get him to accept that he has actually been validly served, he will then immediately respond with a motion to have the case dismissed or set aside on some ridiculous grounds, which rely completely on his recollection of conversations you never actually had, or verbal agreements he suggests you entered into, but never did. He will lay all the blame on you, and deny anything is owed;
When this fails, he will then submit a Defense and Counterclaim, which will try and confuse and muddle things at every turn, to create doubt in both the judge’s mind (and your mind) regarding what is actually (usually) a black-and-white contractual agreement which he has breached. He is very clever here, in that he includes lots of small elements of truth (about times and dates of conversations for example), and emails that suit his purpose, but manipulates what was said and agreed. He also makes wild counterclaims re: damages to create fear.
With everyone amply confused (and you fearful), he may attempt to go to mediation first, as this further delays the actual Court process. He will make a ridiculous offer which you can not accept. A further waste of time and money. He may try and convince you to enter another (or the first) Settlement Agreement here.
When mediation fails, he will then continue to use the approach of “muddle and confuse”, with a highly convoluted affidavit, so you will be unable to obtain Summary Judgement against him, and will need to go to full trial. When this process starts, he will fabricate or falsify anything he needs in order to prove his case. He has absolutely no issue perjuring himself, and concocts all manner of rubbish.
As Court dates come closer, he will request that they be deferred on any of the following grounds (these are the ones he used with us):
Unable to appear due to business travel;
Unable to appear due to (elective) medical procedure;
Request an extension to gather evidence or for discovery;
Change of lawyers (previous lawyers ceasing to act for him as he never paid their bills);
Needing more time for new lawyers to get up to speed;
It goes on and on and on
As the Court date nears, after he has exhausted all his options to delay proceedings, you can be assured that he will have no intention of actually appearing. He will be conveniently in another part of the world. However, he will try and strike a new Settlement Agreement at 5 minutes to midnight, often bringing another party into the process who is willing to “buy out your interest” (eg. PEGG). Again, he will request you consent to a further deferral of the Court date so you can further negotiate and finalize the new Settlement Agreement.
I had a conversation with him and PEGG, and we agreed a settlement verbally, and then what was sent through via email was completely different. We argued over this for more than 3 months (again, using all this time to delay things further) in the vain hope I was going to get some money out of PEGG.
When we finally agreed a Settlement, PEGG only honored the initial payment due upon signing, and then failed to make any subsequent payments – but it bought Gale another 6 months, and it didn’t cost him anything personally.
7. Assuming you haven’t lost the will to live after all of the above, at some point, you can assume you will obtain judgement against Gale. Hallelujah. But that doesn’t really bother him that much. My lawyers did a number of clever things along the way, which enabled us to finally get our money out of him. One of the key things was to get Gale to provide a personal guarantee (become guarantor on the debt owed by Gramercy) in one of the earlier Settlement Agreements, which is how we got to include him personally in all the proceedings, and ultimately how we were able to commence bankruptcy proceedings against him personally – not the Company.
8. As much as Gale is delinquent and evasive, and as much as he will pretend he doesn’t care if he becomes a bankrupt (this is what he will say), at the end of the day he does – and he will do anything to avoid it. Bankruptcy obviously limits a persons ability to travel, act as a Director, borrow money, spend money, earn money, etc. It was literally at midnight the night before he was to be bankrupted in the Australian Federal Magistrates Court that he came through with the money he owed, which appeared from nowhere.
It literally took almost bankrupting him for him to magically find the money owed to me. However, unfortunately, you can be certain that this money came from someone else, like Joe Smith, probably on the basis that he was investing in the business or lending the Company money, and not on the basis that Gale was going to use it to settle his own personal debt obligations to avoid bankruptcy.
But that’s the way he rolls. And with me out of the way, he went straight back to fleecing more people of their hard-earned money, either by getting potential investee companies to pay him / Gramercy fees based on empty promises of his ability to raise money for them; or by drawing other unsuspecting victims (whether they be investors or lenders) into his web of deceit, regarding some new scam or another.
All the time, continuing to fly around the world at the front of the plane, eating at the world’s most lavish restaurants, staying in five star hotels, and living the life of Riley.
Like I’ve said before. The smoothest, cleverest conman you will ever meet.