Luxury fashion brand Christian Dior has been ordered to release funds it holds in the name of infamous conwoman Melissa Caddick, as well as 10 years of records revealing her spending habits.
The expensive lifestyle of the unlicensed financial adviser has been under intense scrutiny since she disappeared without a trace two years ago in the midst of an investigation into her business.
The 49-year-old fraudster vanished from her luxury Sydney home more than two years ago, on November 12, 2020.
She mysteriously disappeared in the early hours of the morning after the Australian Security and Investment Commission and the Australian Federal Police raided her $15m home.
The former financial Adviser did not have her phone, wallet, or keys when she went missing, never to be seen or heard from again.
The 49-year-old was declared dead four months after her disappearance in February 2021 when a decaying foot was found on a beach on the NSW south coast, hundreds of kilometres from Sydney. DNA extracted from the grisly find matched Ms Caddick.
She is accused of swindling about $23m from more than 70 clients while acting as their financial Adviser.
Corporate watchdog ASIC alleges the fraudster funnelled the funds from her client’s accounts into her own bank accounts to fund her lavish lifestyle.
Since her disappearance, court-appointed receivers Jones Partners have attempted to unravel her widespread scam.
Liquidators are attempting to recover the tens of millions of dollars that Ms Caddick misappropriated between 2012-19.
Lawyers representing the receivers, Christian Dior, Ms Caddick’s husband Anthony Koletti and her parents appeared in the Federal Court on Monday.
The court was told that Jones Partners were asking Christian Dior to release 10 years of records related to the missing conwoman, dating back to her first investment in 2011.
Lawyer for Jones Partners, Nicola Bailey, told the court the extensive list of invoices, receipts and statements of account were necessary to encapsulate “a complete history as best as possible of all of the investor funds”.
However, Ben Katecar SC argued his client Christian Dior Australia would be forced to reveal privileged information “for the purposes of someone else’s dispute”.
“The position of Christian Dior Australia is that it is not a party to this litigation, it is an outsider,” he said.
“The information contained in these documents is proprietary. Christian Dior’s business relies on confidentiality.”
The lavish designer became embroiled in the court case when it disclosed last month that it was holding money and documents in Ms Caddick’s name.
Justice Brigitte Markovic said releasing the documents relating to the conwoman would not disclose Christian Dior’s “competitive way of doing business”.
“This is only information in regards to one client and I don’t think it’s any secret Ms Caddick was a client of Christian Dior,” she said.
“I don’t imagine any much can be done with (the invoices).”
She told the court the receivers would be able to release the amount of money the luxury fashion house received from the fraudster.
“It’s not your client’s money,” Justice Markovic said.
“As I understand, you hold it on behalf of a client, and … it’s no more secret than the amount her jewellery may have sold for.”
If Jones Partners wanted to report more granular details to the creditors, Justice Markovic ordered them to provide Christian Dior with three days notice.
“The receivers will need to exercise a degree of caution,” she warned.
Jones Partners will be granted access to the 10 years of records, although the court was told documents from 2021 would be excluded from the cache.
The judge ordered Christian Dior to hand over the records and all funds held in Ms Caddick’s name within two weeks.
According to the court documents, surrendered records include details of any money or goods held on the fraudster’s behalf, such as deposits or goods held pending payment.
The luxury designer is also directed to share financial documents issued to Ms Caddick, including tax invoices, records of any payments, accounts statements and receipts.
The court heard discussions about the fraudster’s contested assets could not be adequately addressed until the inquest into her death was finalised.
Justice Markovic acknowledged the findings were set to be handed down in April next year.
The fight over the conwoman’s assets will return to court on April 19 next year.