Forum scandal figure defends payments from Papas

The alleged fraudster paid $720,000 to his cousin despite an asset freeze

Forum scandal figure defends payments from Papas

The cousin of alleged Westpac fraudster Bill Papas has defended receiving $720,000 from the Forum Finance boss’s share-trading account in violation of freezing orders.

Eric Constantinidis, owner of data-management company Our Kloud, said the transfers were to pay legal fees and make loan repayments, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Papas and his company, Forum Finance, have been accused of defrauding $500 million in loans from Westpac, French bank Société Générale and Japan’s Sumitomo Mitsui Banking. Papas and Forum’s accounts have been subject to freezing orders during the probe of the alleged fraud.

Papas and Forum allegedly used phony documents and forged signatures to scam the banks. In June, Papas fled to Greece, where he still remains, having ceased all communication with his lawyers and the court, the Herald reported.

Constantinidis was named as a defendant in the civil case brought by Westpac against Papas and Forum after liquidators discovered that money had been transferred to him from Papas’ trading account. Constantinidis is not accused of having any knowledge of or involvement in the alleged fraud, the Herald reported. His company, Our Kloud, successfully purchased a small part of the Forum group from administrators.

Unusual trading activity in Papas’ account was noticed last year. The Federal Court issued an arrest warrant for the Forum boss late last year after Westpac raised concerns that Papas had breached freezing orders.

Westpac alleged that Constantinidis accepted transfers from Papas even though he knew the Forum boss had freezing orders on his assets, the Herald reported. The court froze Papas’ assets in Australia on June 28. The transfers between Papas’ share-trading accounts and Constantinidis took place on July 01 and July 06.

Read more: Brokerage director in Papas saga hit with six-figure claim

In new court documents, Constantinidis admitted that he had received two payments from Papas – one for $150,000 and one for $570,000 – but denied that he was aware of the allegations against his cousin at the time of the transfers.

“[Constantinidis] was unaware of the freezing orders against Mr Papas or of any of the allegations in these proceedings,” Constantinidis’ lawyers said in the filing. “The payment of $150,000 … was a reimbursement of two payments made by [Constantinidis] on Mr Papas’ behalf on July 01. Those payments were a payment of $90,000 to Panetta Lawyers and a payment of $60,000 to Fortis Law.”

The documents said that after sending the payment of $570,000, Papas asked Constantinidis to make a payment of $100,000 and keep the balance as a partial repayment of money already owed to Constantinidis.

Papas is no longer represented by either Panetta Law or Fortis Law, the Herald reported.