Former premier Campbell Newman, and wife Lisa whose brother Seb has been caught up in a recording sting.
Former premier Campbell Newman, and wife Lisa whose brother Seb has been caught up in a recording sting.

Campbell Newman relative in secret recording ‘sting’

CAMPBELL Newman's brother-in-law has been caught up in an international secret recording sting, sparking allegations he tried to exploit United States immigration laws.

Seb Monsour, the brother of the former Queensland premier's wife Lisa, has been accused of making inflated claims about his planned purchase of a rundown ski resort in the state of Maine, to access "cash-for-residency" rules.

Seb Monsour.
Seb Monsour.

Mr Monsour has long courted controversy. In 2006, he quit as a Liberal candidate for the state seat of Ashgrove, later held by Mr Newman, after being exposed for falsely suggesting he'd played rugby for the Queensland Reds.

He was hailed a hero by Maine locals last June when it was revealed his family investment company Majella had secured an "historic deal" to buy and renovate the Saddleback ski resort. He promised to turn it into "the premier ski resort in North America".

But in a secret recording of a staff meeting last September 11, which has caused a furore in local media after it emerged this week, Mr Monsour indicated the purchase was motivated by the EB-5 visa program, in which foreign investors can earn residency in exchange for investing $500,000 in high unemployment areas.

"The EB-5 program is the reason we are actually buying Saddleback," he said. "The mountain and opening the mountain is something we would like to achieve, but if we don't, we are not going to lose any sleep with regards to it."

Mr Monsour yesterday staunchly rejected the accusations, saying the recording had been "taken out of context". "We have previously considered the EB-5 program, but it is not a priority funding model for us or our investors.

''My comments in the audio recording from an internal meeting last year were part of a larger discussion on possible financial models and have been taken out of context,'' he said.