The provisional liquidators sifting through missing Sydney businesswoman Melissa Caddick's affairs believe she used Excel spreadsheets to create fake statements to dupe her investors.
Caddick disappeared in November 2020, shortly after her home was raided by the Australian Federal Police as part of an Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC) investigation into her and her business, Maliver Pty Ltd.
Bruce Gleeson and Daniel Soire, of Jones Partners, were appointed as provisional liquidators of Maliver and as receivers of her property in December.
Gleeson described the investigation as "unusual" in a media statement on Wednesday, saying he and Soire had examined thousands of documents and interviewed Caddick's family, former colleagues and investors.
He said they had uncovered widespread instances of Caddick providing fake statements to investors, many of them on a Commonwealth Bank or CommSec letterhead. "In nearly all cases the transactions referred to in the documents and the purported shareholdings deemed to be held by the investors were fictitious," he said.
Gleeson said CBA and CommSec had confirmed the account and/or reference numbers on the statements either did not exist, or did not relate to the relevant investor. "Our view therefore is that the documents have been falsified, so as to mislead investors and give Caddick and the company financial benefits," he said.
Gleeson said they had not found a single instance of Caddick providing a true CommSec portfolio holding statement to investors.
TOOLS OF TRADE
Gleeson said it appeared Caddick insisted on using Excel spreadsheets — as opposed to accounting software — which were the "tool of trade" used to generate the fake statements.
"The process enabled Caddick to portray misleading financial positions of not just the company, but also the financial affairs of the investors she was acting for," he said.
"We identified multiple instances where she was recording in Excel spreadsheets investor funds as company revenue when clearly this was not the correct accounting treatment."
Gleeson also said Caddick had been operating without an Australian financial services licence, that investor funds had been "co-mingled" in company and personal accounts, and that share transactions had not occurred in the relevant investor's name.
"There are hundreds of false bank statements, share contracts and share trading statements," he said.
Fictional documents also surfaced in their inspection of Caddick's self-managed super fund, he said.
Gleeson said it appeared Caddick treated Maliver and her own affairs as one and the same, frequently transferring money between company and personal bank accounts.
Gleeson said there were "many complex legal issues" involved in determining who owned various assets and how to maximise the return to investors, who had been hit financially and emotionally.
"This is an unusual matter and we are continuing to liaise with ASIC so that the best strategy can be implemented to enable assets to achieve both aims," he said.
He urged anyone who knew of Caddick's assets or may have lost money to her to come forward.
Caddick is believed to have left her A$7 million Dover Heights home in Sydney's east about 5.30am on November 12 to go on her morning run.
She was due to appear in court later that day but did not take her phone and has not been seen since.