Sydney property developers Nati Stoliar and James Jariv jailed in US

Villa del Mare, later nicknamed Villa del Night Mare. The Chippendale building that became known as “The Nightmare on Regent Street”. Photo: Supplied
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Nati Stoliar celebrated his birthday in greatly reduced circumstances. Photo: Simon Alekna

Although Sydney property developer Nati Stoliar once resided in the most palatial homes in the nation, on August 19 he celebrated his birthday in greatly reduced circumstances – a jail cell in Nevada.

Earlier this month, Stoliar, 66, who is doing a two-year stretch, was joined by his partner in crime, James Jariv, who received a 10-year sentence over their biodiesel fraud which had netted the pair US$40 million.

Jariv, 64, is one of Sydney’s most reviled developers. In 2004 he fled the country over what has become known as “The Nightmare on Regent Street”.  When purchasers moved into their brand new apartments in Jariv’s development in Regent Street, Chippendale, to their horror they discovered the building was a fire trap and riddled with defects. Jariv had absconded leaving behind debts of more than  $6 million.

In 2009 Jariv and Stoliar, whose own Sydney development company had gone down the tube owing $24 million, set up shop in Vancouver, Canada.

Property development was out and animal fat was in. Their new venture was producing biodiesel fuel from waste fat from animal carcasses. But it was all a sham. There was no farm, no fat and no fuel. The pair fraudulently collected almost US$40 million in trading renewable fuel credits for something which did not exist.

Stoliar’s trajectory from the penthouse to the jailhouse is astonishing  considering he once owned the fabled “Boomerang” in Elizabeth Bay and, in 1996, he paid $8 million for a fine house in Point Piper’s Wolseley Road – the tenth most expensive street in the world.

He bulldozed that house to erect “Ville del Mare” an edifice more befitting his conspicuous wealth. Stoliar craned in an enormous mosaic tile inscribed with an “S” which still graces the entrance of the home.

In early 2001, the well-heeled neighbourhood was evacuated after a parcel bomb was delivered to the house they nicknamed Villa del Night Mare.

The explosive device was contained in a parcel which had a card attached saying, “Timed for destruction”.

“It could be a psycho who did it; nobody knows…You have to be careful when you’re dealing with a psycho,” Stoliar told the Sunday Telegraph at the time.

Villa del Mare, which Stoliar sold in 2004 for $21.5 million, hit the headlines earlier this year when Treasurer Joe Hockey ordered the trophy home be sold after its Chinese purchasers ran foul of foreign investment regulations. It was offloaded for $39 million.

As well as being jailed, Stoliar forfeited US$4 million and agreed to pay a further $1 million in restitution.

The Canadian government recently lost a court case demanding Stoliar also repay it $1 million for defrauding it. The US court ruled the Canadian scam, while similar, was separate to the one Stoliar had perpetrated in the US.

Jariv’s recent sentence for the biofuel scam comes on top of another decade-long prison term. In July Jariv was jailed in Texas for a telemarketing fraud which netted him almost US$7 million.

Jariv’s son Alex, 28, will be sentenced next month over his involvement in both schemes.

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