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Police, ASIC stay silent on Winley fraud

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Those responsible for the “misappropriation” of $8.69 million that led to the collapse of Perth authorised representative company Winley Insurance Group in 2016 will likely go unpunished by Australian authorities.

As reported by insuranceNEWS.com.au yesterday, liquidator RSM Australia Partners’ second and final report makes clear that there will be no payment to creditors as only a fraction of the money was recovered.

Former Winley Director Jeff Bailey and CFO Nickolas Rapos paid $165,000 between them following court ordered mediation, and just over $100,000 had previously been recovered from a company bank account.

WA Police today declined to comment on whether a criminal investigation has ever been launched.

But insuranceNEWS.com.au understands it has not – and that after reviewing information provided by the liquidator in 2017 officers decided it was better handled by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission (ASIC).

ASIC previously banned Mr Bailey permanently from the financial services industry, but today refused to confirm whether any further action is planned. RSM’s report says ASIC has “advised it does not intend to take any further action”.

RSM Partner Neil Cribb told insuranceNEWS.com.au today that although the claim against Mr Bailey and Mr Rapos was for the full amount of misappropriated funds, "this does not mean the money went into their pockets”.

A previous RSM report names Chandanie Godwin and Michael Kapilovsky as possible de facto Winley directors, and Steven Godwin as a shadow director.

Mr Cribb says claims were not submitted against those individuals “because we don’t know where they are”.

“They are overseas somewhere. We don’t have any funds and it is not the liquidator’s role to go chasing people endlessly.”

Asked where he thinks the money went, Mr Cribb replied: “Into a big black hole, we would suggest overseas.”

He noted a $5.17 million loan from Winley to a company called Private Equity Fund Pty Ltd, which has not been repaid.

“We would question whether that was really a loan,” he said.

Winley’s known liabilities totalled $3.31 million, and insurance companies are among those owed money.

It was an application by Allianz that led to the appointment of the liquidator in 2016, but Allianz today declined to comment on how much it is owed, or the outcome of the liquidator’s investigations.

Mr Cribb told insuranceNEWS.com.au he believed many affected insurers “haven’t bothered claiming” due to the unlikelihood of any dividend being paid.