Liquidators investigating the alleged $ 400 million bank fraud committed by Forum Group and its founder, Bill Papas, claimed the company may have acted in the same way as early as 2013.
A report by McGrath Nichols on the findings of a team of forensic investigators linked to liquidators McGrathNichol, Jason Preston, Jason Ireland and Katherine Souzou said if the focus of their work was from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2021, they had found documents suggesting that similar acts had been committed “as early as 2013 at least”.
According to the Australian Financial Review, McGrathNichol alleged in the report that the fraudulent contracts within the Forum Group and associated entities were worth more than $ 500 million.
The findings of the report were based on the analysis of 4.9 million documents, 110,000 transactions on 150 bank accounts held by Forum and its associated entities.
She further alleged that Mr. Papas and others deliberately failed to record financial accounts, manipulated financial accounts and established Forum Group Financial Services outside of the holding company and which owned the remainder of Forum Group entities.
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“It seems like [Forum Group Financial Services] was set up in 2017 as the program ramped up, mainly to conceal the source and applications of funds that had been obtained under the program within the group, ”the report said.
AFR reported in September that suspicions about Forum Group‘s conduct arose before it began its relationship with Westpac bank in 2018, when Melbourne finance and investment firm Wingate Group and MAIA Sydney-based Financial began questioning financial deals with the group in 2017 and 2018. Forum Group cut ties with the two companies.
The alleged Westpac fraud began to surface following a fortuitous call in May this year with its client West Trac which revealed an anomaly in a contract with Forum Group.
Mr Papas left Australia for Greece on June 17, six days after Westpac contacted him about the contact anomaly.
Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation of Japan and Société Générale de France have joined with Westpac in claiming fraudulent activity involving Mr. Papas and Forum Group. The report showed that around $ 297 million was taken from banks as part of the fraud scheme.
“The extent of the alleged fraudulent activity and scheme intensified throughout the period of concentration between 2018 and 2021, with new financiers being introduced to meet ongoing operational and financial obligations,” the report noted. McGrathNicol.
He said a large chunk of the funds was intended to meet past financial obligations. The rest of the funds were used to support loss-making businesses, invest in new businesses, buy new properties and support the extravagant lifestyles of Mr Papas and his partner Vincenzo Tesoriero.
The role of Forum’s CFO, Tony Bouchahine, was also examined, but it was the subject of a previous deletion order. The report does not suggest whether Mr. Bouchahine derived any financial gain from the Forum Group’s alleged fraudulent activities.
“The liquidators will soon file the ROCAPs (Report on the activities and ownership of the company) of Mr. Papas and Mr. Bouchahine with the ASIC (Australian Securities and Investments Commission), noting that they are largely incomplete and have not responded to requests from liquidators for support, ”the report stated.
“Additionally, in the event that Mr. Tesoriero does not comply with the second and final request above within the requested time frame, he will also be reported to ASIC for non-compliance.”