Freezing orders have been expanded against Vince Tesoriero, the business partner of alleged fraudster Bill Papas, with the Forum director prohibited from selling the Rozelle residence of Bill Papas.
The Federal Court orders come after Westpac filed an urgent application against Mr Tesoriero, with the bank alarmed he was seeking to sell the Rozelle property for a reduced price, despite surging property values in Sydney.
The abnormal reversal in the value of the Rozelle home was not overlooked by Justice Michael Lee, who was quick to remark he “didn’t come down on the last shower” when hearing about the dubious listing on Friday.
After learning that Mr Tesoriero’s agents were marketing a property purchased in 2018 for $4.1 million, for what appears to be a discounted price of $3.1 million to $3.3 million, a clearly exasperated Justice Lee commented that “it must be the only property in Rozelle purchased in an arm’s length sale for $4.1 million in 2018 which has stayed at that value or has decreased in value”.
The property is held by Mr Tesoriero on trust for Mr Papas and himself.
Justice Lee said the sale price “rings alarm bells … given what’s been happening with the property market in Sydney over the past three-and-a half years”.
“I also want to be sure people have been playing with a straight bat when it comes to affidavits of assets,” he said.
Justice Lee granted Westpac’s request for a global freezing order be issued against Mr Tesoriero, so that assets he owned overseas, which were supposedly purchased from proceeds of an alleged $400 million fraud of the bank, could be detailed to the court.
Westpac said it was seeking a freezing order of Mr Tesoriero’s assets outside Australia, subsequent to first securing a local freezing order, after it came to light Mr Tesoriero and Mr Papas jointly owned a yacht in Miami which is now reported to be vigorously marketed for sale.
Westpac and two other banks - Société Générale and Sumitomo – have taken civil action in the Federal Court, condemning Mr Papas, his business partner Vince Tesoriero and Forum Finance of defrauding the lenders of $400 million.
Westpac and the other banks claim Mr Papas was involved in forging documents to obtain finance for equipment leases, often for goods that didn’t exist.
To date, Westpac and its advisers have only found around $100 million in assets and cash allegedly taken from Forum. The other $300 million is still missing.
Forum Finance CEO Bill Papas is also at risk of regulatory action over is failure to lodge key documents linked to the company’s administration and liquidation.