Alleged fraudster Papas faces criminal charges – if anyone can find him

Alleged fraudster Bill Papas is facing his first set of criminal charges over his troubles with Westpac – that is if anyone can find him after the Greece-based former Forum Finance boss shut down his email accounts overnight.

For the first time in its civil case against Mr Papas, lawyers for Westpac have raised the prospect of filing an application that the colourful soccer identity be found guilty of contempt of court for breaching freezing orders to trade shares.

Bill Papas and his amazing alleged fraud has included racing cars, luxury homes and overseas assets.

The Federal Court heard on Friday that Mr Papas is suspected by Westpac of ongoing trading in a share trading account held by his company Palante after freezing orders came into effect in July.

The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed late last month that Westpac was delving into Mr Papas’ share trading activities via his online trading account with online broker MacroVue amid fears he may have ploughed millions of dollars allegedly defrauded from three lenders into the sharemarket.

Westpac and two other lenders – Société Générale and Sumitomo – have accused Mr Papas and his company Forum Finance of orchestrating an elaborate fraud by impersonating some of the banks’ biggest customers to draw up fake contracts with forged signatures.

Mr Papas left Australia in June and has been living at his seaside apartment in Thessaloniki. He has been engaging with his lawyers, Westpac and liquidators over a Gmail account and recently attended a soccer game for the Greek football club Xanthi FC he owns.

Counsel for Westpac Jeremy Giles, SC, told the court that Westpac’s attempts to serve action on Mr Papas seeking for him to be found guilty of criminal contempt of court has been thwarted in recent weeks after Mr Papas’ lawyer stopped acting for the former Forum Finance boss.

The Federal Court heard on Friday that Mr Papas suddenly shut down his Gmail account on Thursday amid Westpac’s legal teams trying to send him information. The court heard lawyers for Westpac successfully sent two emails to Mr Papas’ Gmail account during Thursday but a third email on Thursday evening bounced back.

“We received a bounce back yesterday evening,” Mr Giles said. The Age and Herald also received notice from the previously working email account on Friday: Your message wasn’t delivered to [Mr Papas’ email] because the address couldn’t be found or is unable to receive “email.”

Mr Giles said Westpac was also seeking more information relating to Mr Papas’ share trading, via the MacroVue account, in shares owned by Mr Papas’s company Palente.

“The contempt charge related to a transfer which we alleged that Mr Papas caused Palente to do from the online broker’s account a week or so after the orders had been served on him.”

A spokesman for MacroVue has previously confirmed to this masthead that Mr Papas – whose full name is Basile Papadimitriou – was a customer of the trading platform.

“For privacy reasons and because this matter is before the courts we are unable to provide any details of client transactions,” a spokesman said at the time.

“I can also confirm that MacroVue has suspended Mr Papadimitriou’s account and will keep it suspended, freezing the relevant assets until further court instructions are provided.”

The court is now seeking to make urgent contact with Mr Papas’ former lawyer to determine an address for service so that the contempt motion against Mr Papas can be heard.

Justice Michael Lee told Westpac that if it was unable to serve the motion on Mr Papas, the matter could be taken up at later date. “It can be executed if and when he returns to Australia,” Justice Lee said.

The case continues.

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