Westpac to launch court action in Greece against Bill Papas

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Westpac has won permission from an Australian court to launch legal action in Greece to enforce freezing orders over the international assets of alleged fraudster Bill Papas.

The Federal Court approved the bank’s request amid concerns the colourful soccer identity has squirrelled away tens of millions of dollars in the country.

The Federal Court has issued a warrant to arrest Bill Papas.

Westpac has already hired lawyers in Greece and those lawyers attended a recent meeting between Mr Papas and Greek sporting authorities where he reportedly said he still owns the Xanthi soccer club despite telling the Federal Court last year he sold his stake in the company that owns the club.

Mr Papas resides in Greece with his girlfriend Louisa (“Louise”) Agostino after he fled Australia in the days before Westpac and two other lenders, Société Générale and Sumitomo, filed Federal Court civil action accusing him and his company Forum Finance of orchestrating a $500 million fraud against the banks by forging signatures of executives at the banks’ blue-chip clients to secure loans.

Justice Michael Lee also issued freezing orders over the Australian assets of Ms Agostino following a request from Westpac at a court hearing on Tuesday. The order includes the proceeds of the sale of a one-bedroom apartment owned by Ms Agostino in Nagurra Place, Rozelle. That property was sold on December 13 for about $1.1 million, according to real estate industry sources.

Westpac added Ms Agostino as a defendant to its claim against Mr Papas late last year, alleging she was part of a conspiracy to defraud the bank while she was working at Forum Finance. She is yet to file a defence to the allegations. Ms Agostino did not respond to inquiries from The Age and Sydney Morning Herald.

Ms Agostino flew to Greece just days after Mr Papas’ then lawyers told the Federal Court she was arranging flights home for her beau.

The orders cover both Ms Agostino’s assets in Australia and New Zealand as well as any other assets she might own overseas. Mr Papas is also subject to freezing orders over his worldwide assets. Late last year the Federal Court issued an arrest warrant for Mr Papas over alleged breaches of those freezing orders involving the sale of shares from his Australian trading account.

Westpac alleges about $15 million of its money was funnelled into the entity that owns Xanthi FC. The Age and Herald have previously revealed that Mr Papas’ overseas assets also include two seaside apartments in Thessaloniki as well as other property and business investments.

Liquidators from McGrathNicol, who have been appointed to dozens of entities within Mr Papas’ business empire, are leading the chase for his assets. Recently, this masthead revealed that liquidators had sold the four bedroom Rozelle home owned by a trust that lists Mr Papas as a beneficiary. Last week liquidators put up for sale the first of two large adjacent waterfront homes owned by Mr Papas in Wagstaffe on the NSW Central Coast. That property sports a price tag of $13.5 million.

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