Aussie ex-mogul in exile vows extradition fight

Christopher Skase, whose media and leisure empire crashed in the late 1980s, has vowed to fight efforts to force him to return from self-exile in Majorca to face 32 company law charges.

A court in Brisbane Tuesday ordered the issue of a warrant to arrest Skase, whose Qintex group once owned Australia’s Seven network and posed as a serious bidder for MGM.

From his home on the Spanish isle, the Australian immediately released a statement indicating he would defend himself in the courts of Spain, “where I am resident and I intend to remain.”

Skase is accused of misusing his position as a director of Qintex in relation to funds totaling $ A10.2 million ($ 6.9 million).

In the Brisbane court, his counsel had argued that Skase was too ill to travel safely back to Australia. But in granting the arrest warrant, Judge Eric Pratt described Skase as a “conniving fugitive” who had exaggerated his medical evidence “out of all proportion.” Judge Pratt added that while he accepted Skase suffered from pulmonary emphysema and acute asthma, he saw no risk in Skase making the journey.

The prosecution has undertaken to return Skase by sea or air with medical escort at its expense.

Australia has an extradition treaty with Spain, but the legal process could drag on for five or six months.

Skase complained to one reporter that the Australian authorities were not making any provision to recompense his family in the event of his death or disability.

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