The Australian media are reporting a scary incident at the home of Sportingbet's Australian CEO, Michael Sullivan, in which a luxury BMW X5 belonging to the family and parked outside the house was destroyed by fire, endangering the home itself.
Sullivan rushed home from a business trip on receiving the news, relieved that his wife and children were not harmed and his North Shore home was relatively undamaged, the Daily Telegraph reports.
The family and their neighbours vacated homes in the vicinity around midnight when the SUV erupted in flames, with two fire engines rushing to the scene.
Detectives are investigating and the remnants of the vehicle have been removed for forensic examination, a police spokeswoman said. "A crime scene was established and investigations are continuing. Police are treating it as suspicious," she added.
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Sullivan declined to comment until the police has completed their investigation, but paid tribute to fire and rescue services. "I would like to thank the police and fire brigade for their fast work that ensured the fire was contained as quickly as possible."
The Telegraph reports that Sullivan is one of Australia's biggest bookmakers, with his company turning over A$1.35 billion last financial year. The newspaper recounts that he is famous for the enormous bets he is willing to take, quoting as an example a single bet of A$5 million on Lonhro – one of Australia's best racehorses – at odds of $1.20 in the 2004 Queen Elizabeth Stakes. Lonhro was beaten and Sullivan took the lot.
On Melbourne Cup day this year Sullivan's company took 20 000 phone bets and 145 000 internet bets.