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Gatto to track down Opes investors' cash -

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Gatto to track down Opes investors' cash

The World Today - Tuesday, 8 April , 2008 12:10:00

Reporter: Jane Cowan

ASHLEY HALL: It's not every day that a figure with links to the underworld offers to help investors
who have lost money in a stockbroking collapse.

But the man responsible for one of Melbourne's most high profile gangland killings has flown out of
Melbourne today, vowing to find millions of dollars lost in the failure of the Melbourne
stockbroking firm, Opes Prime.

Mick Gatto says he's working for a group of anonymous investors and his methods have more chance of
working than more conventional channels. But Mr Gatto assures investors his negotiating tactics
will be non-violent.

Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: A few years ago, Mick Gatto shot a man dead in a Melbourne restaurant. He was acquitted
of murder on the grounds of self defence.

These days he calls himself a "consultant for the construction industry". But he's still talking

MICK GATTO: It's either our way or the highway, you know. If they want to recover their money, they
got to jump on board with us very quick.

JANE COWAN: Mick Gatto runs a company called Arbitrations and Mediations and says he's been
approached by a few "friends and sophisticated investors" who have lost money in the millions in
the Opes Prime collapse.

He says his company has more chance of recovering the money than any number of lawyers and

MICK GATTO: All I can say is they're good, strong leads and the more that jump on board, the
stronger it'll be, because we're only going to get one crack at this. History shows that if you
leave it with the lawyers and the receivers they stretch it out for years and then investors get

So our motive is to sort of try and fast-track all that, and get as much as we can back to the
investors, and it'll be a win-win for everyone.

JANE COWAN: But others are sceptical.

KEN FOWLIE: (laughs) We'll see. Look, I mean, you know it's for people to make their own calls as
to how they want to pursue things and it's a matter for them. But it's not the way we're pursuing

JANE COWAN: Ken Fowlie is one of the directors at Slater and Gordon, the legal firm that's started
a class action on behalf of investors.

KEN FOWLIE: I think Mr Gatto might have talked about his track record, but we've got a pretty proud
track record ourselves.

The situation with Opes Prime is obviously a terrible situation. A lot of people have lost money
and unfortunately my experience with these things, there are no quick fixes to it.

JANE COWAN: As Opes Prime investors out of pocket more than $500-million gathered for briefings in
Melbourne this morning, Mick Gatto was boarding a plane to Singapore. He vows to have money back in
investors' hands within six months.

MICK GATTO: I'm not sure what we'll be doing at this stage, but we'll be visiting lots of offices.
But Opes Prime mightn't be one of them at this stage. We're looking for the money, not the company.

JANE COWAN: How do you intend exactly to track the money down?

MICK GATTO: Well, we've got leads that we're following at the moment, but I mean it's all
confidential and I can't really say because everyone else will jump on board. But we're one step
ahead of the posse.

JANE COWAN: What sort of methods will you use? Will they be conventional recovery methods?

MICK GATTO: Well, you know, we can't divulge our methods you know. Otherwise, you know, everyone
else will be doing it. But we get the results, put it that way.

JANE COWAN: Mick Gatto admits he won't be using the tactics favoured by receivers and banks, but he
says there will be no violence.

MICK GATTO: We never use violence. It's always amicably and there's no evidence that I've ever used
violence ever. I would have been charged in a heartbeat. I've had more taskforces on me than is on
the Chief Commissioner's desk. Yeah, you know, we do things the right way.

JANE COWAN: Many of Mick Gatto's friends did die in Melbourne's underworld war. And he freely
admits he once ran Victoria's illegal gambling industry. But he says that has nothing to do with
his current endeavour.

MICK GATTO: That's all the in the past, and I mean it was something that was blown up out of
proportion, it's not quite true the way they carry on about all that. I walk around with my head
held high, and I don't worry about anyone and we do our own little thing.

And in reference to the Carlton Crew and all that nonsense, I mean, I used to get around every day
of the week with an 80-year-old pensioner that's since died. So, that was the Carlton Crew. In
answer to your question, it's just all nonsense.

JANE COWAN: Even though your company is called Arbitrations and Mediations, you've been quoted as
saying that you don't know much about arbitration, but you know how to make problems go away.

MICK GATTO: Yeah, I mean I'm not an arbitrator, but that's the name of my company. But I mean, we
fix sticky problems and people come to me with all sorts of problems. They have for many years now,
and it's not true, they sit down and chat and (inaudible) and have a coffee with me, that's not
quite true.

But, you know, we've got results for lots of people and people keep coming to me. I don't advertise
anywhere. It's all done through word of mouth and, you know, I'm quite happy with that.

JANE COWAN: All the fuss does little to comfort investors like John who called in to ABC Radio this
morning, telling how he lost $200,000 of super through Opes Prime.

JOHN: Something that we haven't lost, they haven't got any rights over it.

JANE COWAN: This investor for one is loath to put his faith in either the lawyers or Mick Gatto.

JOHN: I'm not really preferring either because both of them are going to charge a lot of money to
do something.

ASHLEY HALL: Investor John, ending Jane Cowan's report.