NSW Police ramp up probe of alleged Westpac scammer

The NSW Police's Financial Crimes Squad is now looking into Bill Papas and his companies

NSW Police ramp up probe of alleged Westpac scammer

The New South Wales Police Financial Crimes Squad is moving ahead with a probe of Forum Group founder Bill Papas, who is accused of bilking Westpac and other banks out of $400 million.

NSW Police referred the investigation to the Financial Crimes Squad late last month after authorities were alerted to accusations of fraudulent activity related to equipment leasing, according to The Australian. The financial crimes unit is reportedly amping up its investigation of Papas and the allegations made by Westpac and other banks.

“In July this year, police received a report of an alleged multimillion-dollar fraud against a financial organisation,” a spokeswoman for the NSW Police told The Australian. “Initial inquiries were conducted by North Shore Police Area Command before the matter was referred to the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad. Inquiries are continuing and no further information is available at this time.”

In addition to the police, Westpac has reported its allegations to the banking regulator and the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, The Australian reported. The bank is also pursuing Papas, his business partner Vincenzo Tesoriero, and Forum in Federal Court. Papas’ and Tesoriero’s assets have been frozen.

Papas, the owner of soccer club Xanthi FC, was also Sydney Olympic Football Club president before the allegations led to his ouster.

Westpac is attempting to recover about $294 million it says it was defrauded of. The bank says that Papas and Forum stole the money by forging signatures and using phony documents to obtain unauthorised loans.

Read more: Papas is lying about his assets – Westpac

French bank Societe Generale and Japanese entity SMBC Leasing and Finance have also accused Forum and Papas of fraud, The Australian reported.

Papas has been in Greece since June. He pledged to return to Australia last month, but failed to do so, claiming a positive COVID-19 test kept him from travelling. Papas has also requested funds to maintain his lifestyle and a prepaid return ticket to Greece as conditions for returning.