Sunday October 27,2013 : POKER PRO CAUGHT UP IN AUSTRALIAN FRAUD INVESTIGATION
Bill Jordanou named in weekend reports on A$70 million fraud case.
Police in the Victoria province of Australia are investigating a A$70 million Ponzi scheme allegedly involving international poker player Bill Jordanou (55) and Melbourne accountant Robert Zaia (45), who are alleged to have used fraudulent documents to access loans from the Commonwealth Bank – one of Australia's largest – and siphon funds to their private bank accounts.
The Age newspaper reported over the weekend that up to 20 wealthy clients served by Zaia have been prejudiced in the alleged fraud, while his business partner Jordanou is also the subject of a two-year police investigation, expected to be finalised soon.
Earlier this year police raided the offices of Zaia Arthur & Associates, reportedly uncovering hundreds of fraudulent documents allegedly used to make unauthorised bank transfers at the Commonwealth Bank's Box Hill branch.
It is also claimed that the bank provided millions of dollars in loans for commercial projects and property developments that were never started, with some of the funds allegedly stolen or shuffled between client accounts.
Three victims were told by police investigators that the two men had obtained financial advantage from about $70 million in funds allegedly acquired by fraud, The Age reports, adding that reporters have seen documents showing that large sums of money were transferred to bank accounts, family trusts and credit cards linked to Jordanou and Zaia.
The bank is also said to have made unauthorised payments to other prominent players on the Asia Pacific Poker Tour.
Jordanou and Zaia have been directors in a number of companies now in external administration or being struck off by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, the newspaper claims.
Over the past five years, the two men embarked on a lavish spending spree that included a fleet of luxury cars, two boats, a jet-ski, Harley-Davidson bikes and several hot-rods.
Lawyer George Defteros, who is representing both men, said his clients were co-operating with police, but had no comment to make.
Exacerbating the issue, and infuriating some of the victims, the Commonwealth Bank has held some of Zaia's clients responsible for financial losses incurred in the alleged frauds, and in one case launched legal proceedings to repossess a local property.
In a Supreme Court affidavit, complainant Rita Klapanis claims she was served with a demand to repay a A$6 million loan that was secured with fake documents created by Zaia Arthur & Associates, her family's accountants.
Klapanis allegedly only learnt of the massive debt when contacted by the bank, and immediately reported the matter to the police.
Despite this, the bank has pressed ahead with its bid to seize her house and collect the debt, which is growing at a rate of A$1135 a day.
Eight other alleged victims of Zaia Arthur & Associates have been named in an affidavit filed in the Supreme Court. Other victims of the alleged fraud are expected to launch legal action against the bank.
A lawyer acting for a property developer who lost millions of dollars accused the bank of gross negligence.