Bitter battle for $500k buried fortune comes to an end

A legal dispute over who should get more than $476,000 in cash found buried on a Gold Coast development site last year has been settled with a confidential agreement.

Lawyers for the land owner, two tradies who found the buried cash, and a son of a former owner of the land reached an agreement over a money split during mediation on Monday.

The tradies, who were working at the Runaway Bay site, dug up a plastic tub containing $388,850 in old paper notes on October 31, last year.

Some of the buried cash found by two tradies working on a Runaway Bay development site.
Some of the buried cash found by two tradies working on a Runaway Bay development site.

They took it straight to Runaway Bay police station, the Supreme Court heard.

The tradies, excavator operator Warren Bruggy and labourer Daniel Boyd, dug up a second tub containing many damaged bank notes the next day.

They claimed they were later sacked by their contractor employer because he was not first told of their discovery.

Mr Bruggy and Mr Boyd originally made a claim on the money on the basis of "finders keepers".

Excavator driver Warren Bruggy (left) and labourer Daniel Boyd who found the buried cash.
Excavator driver Warren Bruggy (left) and labourer Daniel Boyd who found the buried cash.

The Reserve Bank later confirmed that the total money found buried on the Lae Dr, Runaway Bay site, owned by Morrison Construction Services, was $476,600.

On Monday, lawyers for the land owner, Mr Bruggy and Mr Boyd and a former land owner's son, Raymond Ma, reached a confidential settlement agreement at mediation.

Justice David Boddice today made an order allowing the confidential agreement.

Justice Boddice said Mr Bruggy and Mr Boyd had "properly provided the funds to Queensland Police Service".

Barrister, David Topp, for the land owner, said everyone was happy that "after 10 long months" the matter had finally come to a resolution, with the four parties agreeing on it.

The tradies' lawyer, Dr Anthony Marinac, said outside the Supreme Court that the two men were happy with the agreement.

"The boys are very happy, as they have been, all the way along, that they did the right thing and took the money to police," Dr Marinac said.

"They are very happy with the outcome."

Gina and Lou Christeson at the Runaway Bay block of land where buried cash was found. They live nearby. Picture: Mark Cranitch.
Gina and Lou Christeson at the Runaway Bay block of land where buried cash was found. They live nearby. Picture: Mark Cranitch.

Dr Marinac said they also were happy with those on social media who had supported them and their claim.

"It's been a very interesting experience for them, no doubt," the lawyer said.

Dr Marinac said his message to anyone finding money in such circumstances was: "It's not finders keepers. Take it to police."

The Supreme Court previously heard that A previous owner of the land, Peter Chan, claimed his brother-in-law Stephen Ma, a travelling chef who died in 2015, must have buried the money there.

Some of the cash which was buried in plastic tubs
Some of the cash which was buried in plastic tubs

Mr Ma's son, Gold Coast restaurant owner Raymond Ma, is made a claim, as his late father's legal representative.

Originally there were six people who had expressed an interest in making a claim on the money, including the tradies' then employer, but some had dropped out.

A former labourer claimed he had previously worked on the site many years ago, and told the court he thought the money looked a bit familiar.


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