Frank Nugan

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Frank Nugan "was born in Griffith in 1942, the son of a Spanish migrant who started a fruit packing business there. The playboy heir to a modest food processing fortune, Nugan got a law degree in 1963 from Sydney University and a Master of Law from Berkeley University in 1965. After working in Canada, he returned to Australia in 1968 and met Bernie Houghton and Michael Hand with whom he established a number of companies, including the Nugan Hand Bank. By the late 1970s, Frank Nugan was calling himself ‘one of the wealthiest men in Sydney’. He drove a gold Mercedes and lived in a million dollar mansion in Vaucluse with a harbour view and its own beach. Half owner of the Nugan Hand Bank, at its prestigious 55 Macquarie Street address, he shared offices overlooking Circular Quay with Sir Robert Askin, recently-retired Premier of New South Wales.

"Askin and his powerful circle were Frank Nugan’s sponsors. Admiral Yates, the President of Nugan Hand Bank, said he accepted the position as Nugan Hand president on the advice of Sir Robert Askin. Admiral Yates said he trusted Askin’s opinion about the bank principals, Frank Nugan and Michael Hand, because Askin knew them well and shared an office with them. Yates said: ‘I inquired of Sir Robert Askin, who had a private office at 55 Macquarie Street with them, and he gave them very strong credentials’. Yates said Askin had told him Nugan and Hand were ‘good solid business people — a little flamboyant, but that was because they were so successful’.

"Nugan touted his skills as a tax consultant and a financial adviser, but his genius lay in deception. Secret accounts were his trademark, and he was gifted at losing money in elaborate deceipts, scattering cheques to create bewildering paper trails. Stewart, in his report into the Nugan Hand Bank, had a diagram of one $30,000 diversion of funds from the Nugan Hand Bank to the Nugan Group in Griffith which Frank Nugan sent through eleven transactions between the source (the Nugan Hand Bank) and its destination in the Nugan Group.

"The Nugan Group, Frank Nugan’s family company, began in 1941 in a primitive shed in Banna Avenue in Griffith, packing fresh fruit and vegetables. By 1977 the Nugan Group was valued at $11 million; it operated a major 5 acre factory complex in Griffith and ran factories in Casino, Lismore and Brisbane. It was one of Australia’s major fruit juice producers, and the largest proprietary fresh fruit and vegetable packers and distributors in the country." [1]

"Frank attended Griffith High School, the University of Sydney (LL.B., 1964) and the University of California at Berkeley (LL.M., 1965), United States of America. After spending some years in Canada, he returned to Sydney in 1968. He was admitted as a solicitor on 22 November and set up practice. In New York on 23 May 1970 he married Charlotte Lee Sofge, who came from Tennessee.

"That year Nugan was involved, as a director (1970-72), in floating Meekatharra Minerals N.L. to mine nickel, cobalt and copper in Western Australia; its shares rose to $6.90 then fell sharply. With a New Yorker named Michael Hand, Nugan engaged in land-deals and share-trading. In 1973 they set up a merchant bank, Nugan Hand Ltd, with a nominal paid-up capital of $1 million. Between 1976 and 1979 'turnover' reportedly rose from $30 million to $1000 million; the bank opened offices to accept deposits in Hong Kong, Singapore, the Cayman Islands and Saudi Arabia...

"Meanwhile, his elder brother Kenneth had expanded their father's firm, the Nugan Group Ltd, into one of Australia's largest fruit and vegetable distributors; Frank was one of its directors. In 1978 he, Ken and others were charged with conspiracy to defraud the Nugan Group." [2]

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  1. The Banker & The Killer Kop: The Murder of Don Mackay, John Jiggens, accessed September 14, 2009.
  2. Francis John Nugan,, accessed September 15, 2009.