John McGrath says claims of $16.2 million gambling debt is "rubbish" that will not distract him

John McGrath says claims of $16.2 million gambling debt is "rubbish" that will not distract him
John McGrath says claims of $16.2 million gambling debt is "rubbish" that will not distract him

The besieged real estate boss John McGrath has described reports of a $16.2 million gambling debt as "ridiculous."

His response came in a 5.55am Saturday morning email to staff.

"This rubbish will not distract me and should not distract us," he suggested.

"Having just enjoyed a productive week, I was hoping perhaps I might get some respite from the barrage of negative media, only to find yet another article clearly designed to damage me.

"The information in the article is ridiculous but as Mark Twain once said “A lie can travel halfway around the world before the truth has got its boots on."

"I will deal with it and its authors," he told his staff who awoke to read a Fairfax Media article alleging his gambling debt to the Tom Waterhouse-run betting company William Hill was the biggest personal debt in Australian gambling history.

McGrath, who founded the estate agency in the late 1980s, resumed control last month after the current board decided to depart amid gloomy trading figures.

The share price hit a new intraday low of 43 cents, down three cents, in Monday morning trade on the ASX, better than the overall market decline.

A McGrath spokeswoman said John McGrath was not available for comment as he worked to execute his 2018 growth plans.

His agency sold 16 of 26 auction offerings at auction yesterday with prices between $430,000 for a two bedroom East Ballina villa to a four bedroom $1.7 million Merewether house.

His email noted the past few weeks had been among "the most challenging ever in my life.

"I’m sorry that I have been targeted – but I am more concerned about you guys than about me." 

McGrath has previously denied having any gambling debts. 

"I can assure you that I am neither a large punter...nor do I owe any funds to anyone," he said in a text message to Fairfax Media when they sought insights in 2017.

McGrath did not reply to written questions put to him on Friday by Fairfax Media.

This article was first published in the Sunday Telegraph.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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