Receivers appointed by GE Capital Corporation, to whom the building’s owner, the Nauru Phosphate Royalties Trust, owes $236million, seized Nauru House and three other buildings on Friday.
The other buildings, which are owned by the Nauru Government, are Sydney’s Mercure Hotel and Royal Randwick Shopping Centre and two hotels in Melbourne, the Downtowner and Savoy Park Plaza.
Nauru president Rene Harris has flown to Australia to try to sort out the mess and is said to be confident the loan can be refinanced this week by one of two other companies.
Apart from its property portfolio, the island state’s only other income comes from phosphate mining. But the mineral, used in fertilisers, is almost mined out and demand for what remains has fallen because of Australia’s drought.
Nauru has also been paid to house asylum-seekers trying to enter Australia.
The phosphate trust was set up in 1958 to make investments which were intended to provide an income for the 12,000-person island nation when the phosphate ran out. But a number of its property dealings, including three big sites in Melbourne, went wrong, costing millions.