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Byron Shire
May 31, 2023

Byron Bay realtor faces jail over fraud

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Founding director of Unique Estates, Nicolette van Wijngaarden, faces up to 10 years jail. Photo realestate.com.au

Paul Bibby

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.

Significant expansion

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.

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  1. I hope this sends a message to those looking to exploit the Shire for personal wealth – that we’re not actually up for grabs. But fraud is a serious crime.

    Regarding (someone) somehow linking our community volunteers on the Master Plan
    Commitee to illegal activity — as a resident, with no personal grievance — I find the smear of hard-working community volunteers offensive, unnecessary and counter-productive.

    • Council just passed the majority of a Masterplan proposal to increase the town edges from 2 storey to 3 storey, and added a massive amount of new CBD development space by removing any developer requirement for open space, and reduced CBD development required car parking spaces. How many $M over the next decades will real estate agents make from their commissions on sales and resales and rentals from this Masterplan proposed development? And the proposed new capacity of Masterplan development hasnt finished yet (CBD commercial development to be expanded to Butler St, potential redevelopment of the First Sun Caravan Park, and Lawson St North and South car parks and redevelopment of the Pool – plenty of further potential commissions on a massive development of tourist apartments?. There are people on the committee that I think have good intentions, but they are sidelined in the rolling out new development via the Masterplan process, that I regard as a Trojan Horse. There has just been 6 new members – 4 appear to be from the pro development side including another Real Estate Agent. I am concerned that real estate agents are on a committee dealing with implementation of the Masterplan proposals because of the potential for pecuniary Conflicts of Interest for whos benefit?

      • Thank you for the info John. I do not want developers exploiting the town any more than you do. I feel very strongly about the height limits and I agree – any changes to height limits is the beginning of the end for the town centre. The philisophy of more allowable residential in town (via increasing height in some areas) is usually based on trying to keep populations from urban sprawl – and keep the commercial within the central area also – obviously without the need for vehicles. I don’t know the impact of the MasterPlan and there may be some horrible mistakes but there are also some good ideas put forward. No one trusts developers, and few amoung us trust Real Estate agents.. but the committee has some genuine community people trying to consult and do the right thing.. They are not all vested interests or greedy. I don’t think discrediting a community committee is helpful to your interests — or the future of the town.

  2. Should be referred to ATO and their specialised Phoenix Taskforce.

    If anyone has intelligence about her and associates send to this link please.

    How could you grow a business model that quick, not pay employees and liquidate.. Its very unethical business and the community should not have to accept it any further.

  3. So where has the husband / partner run off to. Cowardly act leaving her to take the full on wrap. She has toughed it out unlike the Bonds and Skases of the world and, in this case the dead head partner


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