The founder of a Byron-based prestige property real estate agency that went into liquidation last year has been charged with 15 counts of fraud involving more than $3.5m.
Founding director of Unique Estates, Nicolette van Wijngaarden, faces up to 10 years jail if found guilty of the charges, which were laid after a lengthy investigation by forensic accountants.
The NSW Department of Finance told The Echo that Ms van Wijngaarden, 44, was currently on bail and is due to appear in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court on November 8. Among the charges being faced by the 44-year-old are five counts under section 211(2) of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002. This section of the act relates to fraudulently converting money from a business for a person’s own individual use.
Ms Winjgaarden is also facing 10 charges of fraud under the NSW Crimes Act 1900.
Both offences carry a maximum penalty of 10 years’ jail.
In a statement to The Echo the Department of Finance said, ‘the total quantum of money involved in all charges alleged is in excess of $3.5 million’.
Unique Estates was founded by Ms van Wijngaarden in Byron Bay in 2009 as a boutique agency dealing with luxury properties.
It expanded significantly in the ensuing years to include offices in Albert Park, Double Bay, the Gold Coast, Melbourne, and Hong Kong.
The agency also published the magazine Unique Luxury, which was distributed in Qantas lounges across the country.