Newcastle fraudster's tall tale of dealing in the black market diamond trade

FICTION OR FACT: Newcastle fraudster Lemuel Page claims he spent millions buying precious pink and white diamonds from a gang of Russians he met in a Sydney nightclub.

FICTION OR FACT: Newcastle fraudster Lemuel Page claims he spent millions buying precious pink and white diamonds from a gang of Russians he met in a Sydney nightclub.

IT’S the court document that mirrors the plot of a wacky crime novel about the deeds of a Newcastle developer and his orthodontist buddy bluffing their way through the international black market in smuggled diamonds.

There are the Russians, who are actually Bulgarians, who strike a deal to sell the gems – not to mention gold bullion as big as “Mars bars” – to the unlikely pair in a Sydney nightclub for $2.25 million, but only request a $530,000 downpayment. It is paid in cash to a Russian named “Burge”, with the money hidden in a “Coles or Myer” shopping bag. 

Jailed ex-bikie boss Sam Ibrahim makes a cameo, allegedly loaning the main characters $250,000, as does Sydney drug kingpin Steven Spaliviero whose arrest in 2009 leads to the disappearance of the chief diamond trader “Andre” the Russian.

But the real plot twist comes on page 123 of the document, when former Libyan leader Colonel Gaddafi's son, Al Saadi Gaddafi, offers to buy the pink and white diamonds from the Australians for 60 million Euro.

CASH: Page alleged ex-bikie boss Hassan "Sam" Ibrahim loaned him $250,000.

CASH: Page alleged ex-bikie boss Hassan "Sam" Ibrahim loaned him $250,000.

The jaw-dropping read, set against the backdrop of Tank Nightclub and Minx Gentlemen’s Bar, in Sydney CBD, was offered up in Supreme Court proceedings by convicted Newcastle fraudster Lemuel Page as his explanation for what happened to the life savings of one of his real-life victims, who actually is a Sydney orthodontist.

Page claimed he was the bag man, the duo always paid the Russians in cash and he kept no records of the diamond repayments. 

It's a tall tale and no-one, maybe not even Page, knows where the boundary sits between fact and fiction. The civil court proceedings ended in May 2015, with Page ordered to pay the orthodontist $2.8 million.

Page, who at the time was driving a yellow Lamborghini Murcielago, spun a web of deceit persuading the orthodontist to put up large sums of cash to invest in property deals across Newcastle and Sydney, plus shares, diamonds and gold, but he saw very little for his money.

DIAMONDS: Former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son Al-Saadi Gaddafi.

DIAMONDS: Former Libyan leader Colonel Muammar Gaddafi's son Al-Saadi Gaddafi.

But in the end, as Fairfax Media reported in July, it was his story about buying millions of dollars worth of diamonds, that saw Page – in real life - sell the orthodontist a cheap cubic zirconia ring for $85,000, that tripped up the 48-year-old property developer turned fraudster.

The fake diamond ring, made in the Hunter, was actually worth $1500.

The orthodontist’s version of events is a tad more simple. Page befriended him, telling him he was an only child who lost his mother to cancer, was raised by his grandmother and always wanted to “find a friend in life that could be like my brother”. The orthodontist lost millions over more than five years. 

​Read part two in Monday’s Newcastle Herald