An alleged $300m fraud, a missing tycoon, and now? Court orders drag other companies into the fray
National Australia Bank has been dragged into Westpac’s ongoing stoush with Forum Finance boss and football club owner Bill Papas over an alleged $294 million fraud.
The Federal Court ordered Monday that NAB and four Forum Group companies – including Forum Enviro and Forum Group Financial Services – deliver documents to the court by Wednesday, according to a report by The Australian.
The orders require the companies to provide a copy of the most recent audited or unaudited financial statements and management accounts of four Forum Group companies. They also demand a copy of bank statements and debtors ledgers from the four companies from Aug. 1, 2018, to present.
Court documents revealed that two plastic tubs full of documents were removed from Forum Finance’s North Sydney office as part of a search order in the case, The Australian reported. The same documents said that Westpac’s attempts to gain access to the inner workings of Forum Finance were blocked by delays from the holders of the equipment leasing firm’s computer servers.
An email from Corrs Chambers Westgarth partner Felicity Healy said that when she went to Forum Finance’s offices June 29, she was told OurKloud, the holder of the company’s records, was controlled by a relative of Papas. Other emails showed that Westpac’s technical experts had sought access to Forum’s electronic records on June 30. However, subsequent calls on July 1, 2, 5, and 6 were not answered, The Australian reported. The court ordered OurKloud to hand over the records on July 7.
Papas was president of the Sydney Olympic Football Club until news of the alleged fraud led to his ouster earlier this month. Last year, he bought Xanthi Football Club, a Greek soccer team.
Westpac disclosed earlier this month that it was investigating a potential fraud after discovering that loans had been given to its corporate customers using forged signatures and phony invoices allegedly produced by Forum Finance.
The firm has yet to file a defence against the allegations, according to The Australian. Nor has it provided a reconciliation of assets and liabilities, despite missing two court deadlines. Forum Finance was placed into liquidation Friday.
As for Papas, he was last heard from somewhere in Europe. Last week, he told his attorney, Rocco Panetta, that he would return to Australia on a Japan Airways flight on Saturday.
However, no Japan Airways flight landed in Australia on Saturday, The Australian reported.