Westpac to pursue legal action against Papas in Greece

The bank will seek to enforce freezing orders on the alleged fraudster's assets

Westpac to pursue legal action against Papas in Greece

Westpac has obtained permission from the Federal Court to launch legal action in Greece against Forum Finance boss Bill Papas.

The Federal Court has approved the bank’s request to take action in the country in order to enforce freezing orders on Papas’s assets. Papas and Forum Finance have been accused of defrauding $500 million in loans from Westpac and other banks using phony documents and forged signatures. In June, Papas fled to Greece, where he still remains, having ceased all communication with his lawyers and the court.

Westpac has already hired lawyers in Greece. Those lawyers attended a recent meeting between Papas and Greek sporting authorities in which he reportedly said he still owned the Xanthi football club, despite telling the Federal Court last year that he had sold his stake, according to a report by The Sydney Morning Herald.

Federal Court Justice Michael Lee also issued freezing orders on the Australian assets of Papas’ girlfriend, Louisa Agostino, following a request from Westpac on Tuesday, the Herald reported. Agostino currently resides with Papas in Greece.

Westpac added Agostino as a defendant in its suit against Papas late last year, alleging that she took part in a conspiracy to scam the bank while she was working for Forum Finance. Agostino has not yet filed a defence in the case.

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The freezing order covers Agostino’s assets in Australia and New Zealand and any other assets she might own overseas, the Herald reported. Papas is also subject to freezing orders on his assets worldwide. Last year, the court issued an arrest warrant after Papas allegedly breached those orders by selling shares from his Australian trading account.

Westpac claims that about $15 million of its money was funnelled into the company that owns Xanthi FC. Papas’ overseas holdings also include two seaside apartments in Thessaloniki, Greece, as well as other property and investments.