Australian Masterchef season one contestant Aaron Thomas has allegedly stolen over US$7 million from English company Oakmont Trading Ltd., according to a report on news.com.au.
A lawsuit filed in the Manhattan Supreme Court against Thomas accuses the former chef of embezzling millions of dollars from the UK iron ore trading company to fund a lavish lifestyle for himself and his fiancee.
Thomas, who scored an apprenticeship at a George Calombaris restaurant after leaving the show, abandoned the food industry for the finance industry, founding Oakmont in 2010.
He then began selling approximately 74 per cent of the company’s stock to investors, according to news.com.au.
During this time, he adopted what the lawsuit describes as ““a high-class lifestyle for himself and his girlfriends,” draining Oakmont of funds to pay for a $14,500-a-month New York apartment, $121,500 worth of luxury watches, flights, a $91,000 Las Vegas holiday and a $171,000 Tiffany & Co. engagement ring for Brazilian girlfriend Thaiana Rodrigues.
According to court papers, “during a Caribbean vacation in Turks & Caicos for himself, Rodrigues, and members of Rodrigues’ family, Thomas chartered a luxury yacht and private jet for his travel companions at a cost of over $US30,000, both of which were paid for with Oakmont funds.”
Thomas was fired by the Oakmont board in January 2014, who then launched legal action against Thomas in the UK.
“While Thomas has made some disclosures as to the whereabouts of the misappropriated funds, a sum of around ($US2.5 million) remains unaccounted for,” the court papers state.
Thomas spoke to The New York Post from his Manhattan apartment, revealing he planned to file a countersuit against the Oakmont board, who are seeking to attain his remaining shares in the company.
Coincidentally, Oakmont shares a name with infamous New York brokerage firm Oakmont Stratton, made famous by the Leonardo DiCaprio film The Wolf of Wall Street.