Bill Papas fraud may have started in 2013, explosive Forum report finds

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A liquidator’s report into Bill Papas’ company Forum Finance has accused the alleged fraudster of a range of criminal offences. 

The report suspects Papas engaged in criminal activities and breached his director’s duties to the level of committing a criminal offence. 

“Mr Papas engaged in dishonest and deceptive conduct in setting up and perpetrating the fraudulent scheme,” the report says.

“Mr Papas did not exercise his power and discharge his duties in relation to Forum Finance in good faith or for a proper purpose.”

“Mr Papas has not been charged with any crimes, which would need to be recommended by company regulator ASIC.” 

The report – undertaken by liquidators from McGrathNicol, Jason Preston, Jason Ireland, and Katherine Sozou – found Papas was likely involved in fraud about five years earlier than suspected. 

“The alleged fraudulent behaviours appear to have been undertaken over an extended period of time.” 

“While we have focused on the period from July 1, 2018, to June 30, 2021, for the purpose of our analysis to date, we have identified materials suggesting similar behaviour was evident as far back as at least 2013.”

The report reviews 4.9 million documents and 110,000 transactions within the group from the 150 bank accounts held by Forum and related parties. 

“A significant proportion of the funding obtained was ultimately applied to meeting obligations to financiers arising out of that funding or to repay historical financiers,” the report notes.

Liquidators also allege that some of the funds were used to: “Fund a lifestyle and personal expenses for Mr Papas and (his business partner Vince) Tesoriero.”

The report also reveals that Forum Finance chief financial officer Tony Bouchahine has been subject to examinations over his role at the company. 

Mr Bouchahine’s examination was previously subject to a suppression order.

“Mr Bouchahine supplied an incomplete ROCAP (Report on company activities and property) on October 7, 2021 and has not answered certain queries in the ROCAP on the basis he wishes to involve privilege against self-incrimination,” the report said. The report does not suggest that Mr Bouchahine profited from the alleged fraud that took place at Forum.

The liquidators are also considering reporting Mr Tesoriero to the corporate watchdog because he has allegedly not responded properly to requests to prepare reports on their companies affairs and property.

“Mr Tesoriero has not provided a ROCAP (report of company’s affairs and property) in respect of either of the companies as at the date of this report. The liquidators will be issuing a second and final request imminently. The Act provides for serious consequences for a failure to submit a ROCAP.”

“Additionally, in the event Mr Tesoriero does not comply with the above second and final request in the requested timeframe, he too will be reported to ASIC for non-compliance.

Westpac has accused Papas in a civil action of orchestrating a $500m fraud against its bank, as well as lenders Sumitomo and Société Générale, by impersonating blue-chip clients to win loans.

Source: Sydney Morning Herald

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