Eastern suburbs businessman and bon vivant Greg Jones has always been a man with a firm belief in the triumph of hope over experience.
Despite being an undischarged bankrupt who is due in court this week in an attempt to fend off another bankruptcy action, this time over unpaid school fees, Mr Jones continues to assure his bankruptcy trustee Bruce Gleeson that any minute he will be back in the money.
Mr Jones is optimistic that a private members’ bill being pushed by Upper House MP Reverend Nile will open the way for compensation to be paid to Cascade Coal, the mining company at the centre of the corruption scandal over which Mr Jones’ one-time close friend, former mining minister Ian Macdonald, is about to be jailed.
In 2014, Cascade and another company, NuCoal Resources, had their exploration licences cancelled following revelations of corruption levelled against then Minister Macdonald.
Mr Jones, 68, was once seriously rich, pocketing an estimated $44 million on the back of his friend John Kinghorn’s floating of RAMS Home Loans back in 2007. What followed was a whirlwind of excess: palatial homes, extravagant lunches and private planes hired to fly the flamboyant Mr Jones and his pals from one luxurious European location to another.
In 2009, Mr Jones boasted to his pals that he was onto another “sure thing” – a coal mining deal involving his mate Macdonald. It was going to be “a multi-bagger” (shorthand for bags of money) Mr Jones told them.
Mr Jones stood to make $60 million out of the deal and, according to evidence given at the Independent Commission Against Corruption, it was suggested that Macdonald was to get a $4 million cut from Mr Jones’ windfall.
In September 2009, only days before Cascade Coal won the now infamous exploration licence at Mt Penny, which covered the farm of Labor powerbroker Eddie Obeid, Mr Jones secretly purchased shares in the privately-owned company.
A fortnight after the licence was granted, Mr Jones forwarded $20,000 to Macdonald, which he later said was a loan.