Alleged fraudster and football heavyweight Bill Papas has emerged from hiding in Greece, appearing at a glamour pre-season friendly match between Xanthi and Olympiacos B on Saturday.
Mr Papas attended the friendly match on Saturday, despite telling the Australian Federal Court in August he sold shares in the company that supposedly owned the Greek Super League 2 side.
Mr Papas, who has been in Greece since June 2021, attended the friendly match with Xanthi chief executive Anastasios Giamouridis and club vice-president Fanis Ouzounidis.
Civil proceedings before the Federal Court allege leasing group Forum Finance and Mr Papas defrauded Westpac, French bank Société Générale and Japanese lender Sumitomo of almost $400 million.
Mr Papas fled Australia after he was first contacted by Westpac about contract irregularities on June 11. However, his exodus from the country was before civil actions were filed by the banks.
Mr Papas was spotted by several local Xanthi media outlets, including Thraki Sports and Sports Addict. He even made a statement on the football club’s website.
“I am very happy to be here today at Xanthi Arena, to watch AOX and be close with the fans and the whole team that works every day for the best result,” he said.
“After a particularly difficult year with the restrictions of the pandemic, the most important thing today is the return of our fans to the stadium. AOX has the right infrastructure and all the specifications for a really strong year. With zest, co-operation and consistency, all our goals will become achievable”.
Xanthi was understood to be owned by Mazcon Investments Hellas IKE. Mazcon is the 94.4 per cent owner of Xanthi, in addition to four properties in Thessaloniki.
In a sworn affidavit to the Federal Court in Australia in August, Mr Papas said: “In relation to entities in Greece, I am administrator and 98 per cent shareholder in Iugis Hellas IKE. I sold my shares in Mazcon Investments Hellas IKE in or about March 2021.”
Bill Papas made no explicit mention of Xanthi or any other Greek assets other than Iugis Hellas and the sale of Mazcon shares. However, filings with Mazcon show Mr Papas remains the 99 per cent shareholder, and no major sale of investments, such as Xanthi, are listed.
In August, Westpac’s barrister, Jeremy Giles SC, said the bank had “grave concerns” of the validity of Mr Papas’ affidavit.
“For example, in one of the affidavits, he deposes to having sold the shares in Mazcon Investments back in March, which curiously enough would be before the events were discovered,” he said.
“We simply don’t accept that as an accurate statement, and we will in due course lead evidence of payments out of the Forum Group Financial Services account to Mazcon of circa $2 million in mid-June this year.”
Westpac claims Mazcon received at least $16.5 million, which was fraudulently obtained and funnelled, through Forum Group entities.
Westpac and the other lenders’ case against Bill Papas continues. Mr Papas’ lawyers last month said he does not have enough money to return to Australia to attend court.
So far, the major bank and its advisers have only found approximately $100 million in assets and cash allegedly taken from Forum. The other $300 million is still missing.