| The family of tragic INXS frontman Michael Hutchence wants to know what became of their son's fortune after his suicide in 1997. TONY WALL goes on the trail of the mysterious NZ-based tax lawyer who may know the answer.
On a cattle farm next to the towering sand-dunes of Dargaville's remote west coast, an elderly man climbs from his truck and reels off names from one of the great celebrity scandals as though they were locals living down the road.
He may be just a farmer in tiny Baylys Beach, Northland, but he probably understands the complex financial affairs of Australian rock star Michael Hutchence, Paula Yates, Bob Geldof and Tiger Lily better than your average LA gossip columnist.
This man is farm manager for Australian Colin Diamond, a mysterious international tax lawyer who was Hutchence's business manager, executor of his will and guardian to his daughter, Heavenly Hiraani Tiger Lily.
"They've formed a trust for Tiger Lily," the farmer drawls. "The money's all in the trust and he (Diamond) pays a certain amount to Bob Geldof every month. Everyone's happy."
This $2 million Baylys Beach farm has become a focus of attention for the unhappy members of the deceased rock idol's family, who want to know what has happened to the INXS frontman's fortune.
Colin Diamond lives at this rugged farm when he's not in Hong Kong, Indonesia or Australia for tax purposes. Locals, like the Australian media and Diamond's ex-wife Robyn, describe him as "secretive and elusive", a man with multiple New Zealand properties worth millions of dollars and a luxury yacht he named Elusive.
The Sunday Star-Times tracked the 47-year-old to Baylys Beach last week to ask him what became of Hutchence's fortune and why Hutchence's mother, Patricia Glassop, has been chasing Diamond and his associates for the family's share of the will since her son's suicide in 1997.
We found a man with a love life as complex as his entanglement in the Hutchence affair, a man who has two children to his stepdaughter Evie while her mother and his ex-wife, Robyn, live only two doors away. And while he describes himself as a "barrister practising in international law" the Sydney Morning Herald recently reported that searches of jurisdictions in which Diamond claims to practise Hong Kong, Queensland and New Zealand did not find anyone of that name with a current practising certificate.
Last week, while Diamond was playing golf and riding his quadbike around Baylys Beach, the Hutchence family was poring over an executor's report which declared that eight years after his death, the balance of the rock star's estate is zero. All the family has received is an out-of-court settlement in Queensland in 1999 that was not even enough to cover its $500,000 legal bills.
The family wants to know what became of Hutchence's $10m to $20m of property and assets around the world, including the villa in the south of France, the home in Chelsea, London, three Gold Coast properties and the multi-million-dollar development on the Indonesian island of Lombok.
Hutchence had structured his financial affairs to minimise tax and protect his fortune from falling into the wrong hands. His assets were hidden in a complex array of companies and trusts which cris-crossed the globe from Liberia to the British Virgin Islands.
If Diamond knows what has become of the assets, he is not saying.
"It's all been through the courts already," he said last week, before threatening to call the police if the Star-Times did not leave his property.
Colin Diamond was a successful Gold Coast businessman when Robyn met him in the early 1980s. Photos from the time show a rake-thin man with a bushy beard who was good with her children, including her eight-year-old daughter Evie. Friends introduced the couple and they were married within a year Evie was a flowergirl at the wedding and later moved to New Zealand.
Diamond and two associates had set up business in Hong Kong as international lawyers and accountants. A decade later, they came to the notice of the Australian Federal Police, who were investigating a complicated tax scheme in which a government agency lost $19m and the ANZ bank $3m.
Throughout their marriage, Robyn Diamond says her husband was a mystery, flying overseas at the drop of a hat, never saying where he was going and never talking about his business deals.
"I felt superfluous. I stayed at home and Colin had several different lives as far as I could tell. I don't know what he did. I tried to find out but I couldn't, so I left him," she said, adding that she got nothing from the divorce.
Robyn said her husband met Hutchence through business. They became close, at one point owning a Gold Coast property together.
She said Diamond "did his utmost" for Hutchence and lover Paula Yates, helping to mediate when Yates was trying to gain custody of her children from singer Geldof, who is now raising Tiger Lily.
In 1997, when Hutchence was found hanging in a Sydney hotel room, no one could reach Diamond to let him know, Robyn said.
"He rang here to speak to the boys and I broke the news to him. He burst into tears. The first thing he said was `I tried so hard' I don't know what that meant."
Robyn Diamond said her husband told her several years ago that when the "heat started coming on" him as executor of Hutchence's will, he handed over the inheritance of the singer's daughter, Tiger Lily, to "a team of Jewish lawyers in New York".
Robyn and Colin divorced 12 years ago but she says that five years ago Evie began a relationship with her former husband. Evie Angel Diamond is listed as a co-owner of the two companies Rasputin and Quay Largo that Colin Diamond is a director of in New Zealand. They own more than $5m worth of farm properties in Northland and used to live on the 21st floor of the Metropolis tower in Auckland. Now 31 with her long, blonde childhood locks chopped to a brunette bob, Evie wasn't keen to speak last week. Clutching a dachshund and with one of her children running around her feet, she insisted, "I don't do interviews."
Robyn Diamond is bitter about her daughter and ex-husband's relationship, but while she has questioned what happened to Hutchence's money, she now wonders whether the singer really had any money at all. Certainly his Australian family has seen barely a cent. Glassop said she, her late husband Kell Hutchence and children Tina and Rhett had not received anything despite being named in Hutchence's will. Tina Hutchence told the Star-Times from Los Angeles she had come to New Zealand in search of Diamond but "I could never find him".
She told the Star-Times last week that there was no evidence Tiger Lily would receive any inheritance when she becomes an adult.
Glassop told the Star-Times her famous son had had some issues with Diamond before his death.
"I was with Michael in his hotel suite in Los Angeles in July of 1997 and Paula was on the phone continually dialling (Diamond's number). Michael was not an angry person but he lost his temper and said `I can't believe this, he's never there when I want him'."
She has affidavits from her son Rhett and husband Kell, who claim that in 1998, Diamond told them she (Glassop) "isn't getting a f––– cent" because of legal action she had started. Glassop claimed Diamond signed her son's cremation certificate and gave the singer's permanent address as being on the Isle of Capri, a Gold Coast suburb. Diamond now says Hutchence did not own that property.
Glassop cannot afford to take further court action against the man she described as "the elusive Mr Diamond with the roving brief". She has never spoken to him. She was staggered, she said, when Diamond sent her a letter demanding $60,000 to pay for Hutchence's funeral.
Robyn Diamond, no fan of her ex-husband, admitted he had a "certain charisma, a kind of mana".
But she says he could also be nasty. He and their sons once went to the Isle of Capri to holiday with Hutchence and Yates and their children. She left an angry message on his answer machine asking where her children were.
"He gave me a big telling off about that because Paula (Yates) heard the message. It `wasn't cool'."
After Evie became involved with her ex-husband, Robyn Diamond changed her will, leaving everything to her two sons. All she is leaving for Evie is a shoebox full of photos, several showing her in the arms of her stepfather as a child.
(Taken from an article in The Sunday Star Times)
4th September 2005