Market gardeners sell off assets

Embattled Carabooda market gardener Michael Le and his family have begun liquidating assets, with millions of dollars of real estate put on the market at heavily discounted prices.

Nine properties directly linked to the Les have been listed for sale, including five market garden lots, two inner-city commercial properties and two residential lots with a combined value of $10.59 million.

Estate agent Thomas Massam is selling five of the properties on behalf of the family and claimed all were being offered about 20 per cent below bank valuations.

"They are priced to sell," he said. "They (the Le family) are trying to reduce their spread of properties . . . and reduce their running costs."

Michael Le and his brother Canh were charged with money laundering in May after unprecedented raids by State and Federal authorities targeting an alleged illegal worker racket.

Soon after the raids, the Les lost a major fruit and vegetable supply contract with Woolworths.

Michael Le has refused interview requests from _The West Australian _ but has said that his business had been "pretty much shut down" as a result of the investigation.

"The supermarkets are scared, our customers are scared," Mr Le told the Joondalup Times in May.

"The company has done nothing wrong and also my family members have done nothing wrong."

The sell-off is understood to represent about a quarter of the family's real estate portfolio.

One of the properties on the market is a 15ha market garden on Bernard Road North in Carabooda. It was bought by the Le family company in 2006 for $2 million. The asking price is only slightly higher at $2.272 million.

Not for sale is the family's Safari Place residential compound, home to brothers Michael, Canh and Dan Le and their mother. The property is the subject of an anti-fortification warning notice issued by police this month.

Documents served on the family allege the premises are used by people reasonably suspected of involvement in organised crime.

Dan Le and his mother have not been charged.

The West Australian

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