An attempt to recoup money Sydney businesswoman Melissa Caddick stole from her clients could be complicated until there is an inquest into her death, the Federal Court has heard.
Months after her Dover Heights home in Sydney’s east was raided as part of an Australian Securities and Investments Commission investigation in 2020, Ms Caddick’s decomposed foot was found washed up on a remote beach on the NSW South Coast.
ASIC is now trying to recoup more than $23 million left owing to 72 people who were clients of Ms Caddick and her financial services company Maliver.
The Federal Court has heard that over eight years, Ms Caddick convinced clients to give her $32 million through 37 bank accounts and although some of it has been returned, there was a deficiency of up to $23.7 million.
On the second day of the hearing, Justice Brigitte Markovic expressed concern about how Ms Caddick’s estate and the estate of her company Maliver would be divided up.
The judge flagged difficulty in deciding which assets belonged to each estate and if separate parties should be appointed as a receiver for Ms Caddick and a liquidator for her business.
Justice Markovic said she was concerned ASIC was trying to “jump over” certain legal steps to appoint the same receiver for both, and the situation “could end up in a mess”.
“It’s the pooling you want to undertake that I am troubled by … in other words, we are going to put everything into a washing machine ” she said.
The barrister for ASIC, Farid Assaf SC, told the court there was another complication to consider, because although on the balance of probabilities, Ms Caddick was dead, the cause and date of her death would not be known until there was an inquest.
Mr Assaf said this could complicate any bankruptcy declaration and claims by creditors.
He presented the court with multiple examples of clients who trusted Ms Caddick with their money.
One man alleges he had known Ms Caddick since she was a child and trusted her with $1.2 million to invest for his retirement but has not had a cent of it returned.
“The evidence is overwhelming,” Mr Assaf said.
“These particulars are not exhaustive … they are selective examples.”
On Tuesday, the court heard Ms Caddick misappropriated her clients’ money to buy real estate, luxury motor vehicles, designer clothing and jewellery.
It heard the facade continued from 2012 to 2020 and that she sent investors fictitious portfolio evaluations.