When she disappeared in November last year, accused Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick left behind a husband, son, assets worth millions and many, many questions.
Confirmation from police on Friday that a “badly decomposed” foot with DNA matching the 49-year-old’s washed up on a NSW south coast beach has answered only the question surrounding her whereabouts.
The Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) began investigating Ms Caddick and her financial services company, Maliver, in September before raiding her Dover Heights home in November.
A day later she disappeared.
The corporate watchdog alleges Ms Caddick, Maliver’s sole director and shareholder, was operating without a license and misappropriating dozens of investors’ funds by “co-mingling” the money in her own bank accounts.
In material before the Federal Court as part of ASIC’s ongoing case, the watchdog alleges she falsified financial documents to show fictitious transactions from investors, including CommSec and share registry Link Market Services.
Both Melissa Caddick and Maliver are defendants in the proceedings.
Just how much money investors handed over remains unclear.
The names of more than 60 investors appear in ASIC’s court documents and in December a barrister said about $13 million had been handed over.
But a law firm acting for some of the investors says they parted with more than $20 million.
Court documents also show that between January 2018 and September 2020 more than $20 million was withdrawn from Ms Caddick’s direct investment account.
According to ASIC’s submissions, instead of investing the money, Ms Caddick allegedly used it for her “own benefit”, including on mortgage repayments, jewellery and luxury goods from brands including Canturi, Christian Dior and Chanel.
ASIC successfully applied to the court to freeze Ms Caddick’s assets and appoint provisional liquidators who analysed her affairs, acknowledging it was a “drastic” and “extraordinary” step.
The provisional liquidators from Jones Partners last week handed their confidential reports to ASIC and the court after spending months combing through thousands of documents.
Outside court, one of the liquidators Bruce Gleeson, described the matter as “unusual and complex” while recognising the “emotional and financial devastation” of the allegedly “deceived” investors.
Mr Gleeson said some invested their life savings and Ms Caddick had always been “meticulous and systematic” in continually representing that their money was safe.
The provisional liquidators face the task of forensically reconstructing about seven years of Ms Caddick’s affairs and tallying up the value of assets that can ultimately be returned to investors.
The Federal Court has heard the process of retrieval will be complicated because while the majority of clients invested their money with Maliver, most of the identified assets were in Ms Caddick’s name.
The provisional liquidators continue to work closely with ASIC to come up with a regime to return funds to investors.
A lawyer assisting the provisional liquidators, Michael Hayter, said there may also be public examinations of auditors, accountants, advisers, lawyers and family members to investigate what further assets exist.
The NSW Police fraud squad is also assisting.
The case returns to the Federal Court in April.