Bill Papas struck down with COVID in Greece, unable to travel to Australia

Bill Papas struck down with COVID in Greece, unable to travel to Australia 1

Forum Finance CEO and Sydney football personality Bill Papas, who is at the centre of $300 million fraud allegations by Westpac, has been struck down with the coronavirus in Greece, a court has heard today.

Mr Papas had been expected to return to Australia last weekend but the court heard his travel plans had been thrown into disarray due to contracting coronavirus.

“My client is still in Greece, he does intend to return to Australia”, counsel for Mr Papas, Jim Johnson, told the court. “On July 8 he tested for (coronavirus) at 5pm and he turned up positive to that which makes his ability to travel somewhat difficult”.

Mr Papas was condemned by Justice Michael Lee earlier in the hearing for failing to comply with orders that he list his assets and liabilities as part of the freezing orders. “I’ve made two orders, I don’t make orders on the basis that they can be treated like traffic lights in Athens, I want them complied with”, Justice Lee said.

It is now thought millions of dollars obtained from Westpac in the alleged fraud likely flowed into overseas entities controlled by Mr Papas and his business partner Vincenzo Tesoriero.

Counsel for Westpac Jeremy Giles, SC, told the Federal Court on Thursday they believe Mr Papas has assets in Germany, Singapore and Greece, including his part ownership of Greek soccer team Xanthi FC. Funds were flowing as recently as this month into the bank accounts of offshore firms linked to Mr Papas, the court heard.

This included companies in England and Germany.
Counsel for Westpac told the court two payments were made after Mr Papas was clued-up of Westpac’s discovery.

“There is reason to think that there are assets in the hands of individuals that we want to be chasing as quickly as possible before there is any further dissipation. The only people who are benefited by any delay is Mr Papas and Mr Tesoriero”.

Mr Giles, acting for Westpac, detailed how millions of dollars paid by Westpac into Forum Finance made its way into an entity called Forum Group Financial Services before amounts were paid into various companies that owned property assets, and other entities controlled by Mr Papas and Mr Tesoriero, including Audi Forum Group. Mr Papas and Mr Tesoriero drive racing Audis, Mr Giles told the court.

An analysis of bank statements conducted by liquidator McGrathNicol showed that of the $340 million paid by Westpac into Forum Finance between September 2018 and June 2021, $289 million was transferred to Forum Group Financial Services. ASIC filings show Mr Papas is the sole director and 50 per cent owner along with Mr Tesoriero.

The Federal Court was told that Forum Group Financial Services was “at the heart of the fraudulent scheme”.