ASIC has withdrawn its criminal charges against alleged fraudster Melissa Caddick, as the circumstances around her disappearance remain a mystery.
The corporate regulator confirmed it had dropped the criminal fraud charges in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court on Tuesday, to enable its civil proceeding to go ahead.
The court affidavit referred to Section 1317N of the Corporations Act 2001, which roughly states that civil proceedings are stayed if criminal proceedings have already started and if the offence is substantially the same across both charges.
ASIC has signalled its priority now is to make a start on returning funds to aggrieved investors, pursuing the wind-up of Ms Caddick's firm, Maliver through its civil action. Ms Caddick, while posing as an adviser, allegedly defrauded investors out of an estimated total greater than $20 million, according to law firm Bridges Lawyers.
While ASIC has acknowledged Ms Caddick’s disappearance is unlikely to be resolved by the NSW State Coroner for some time, the regulator has reserved its rights to reinstate the charges, perhaps allowing for her potential return.
The regulator applied to the court for a revocation of the arrest warrants and a withdrawal of the court attendance notices on 16 March.
NSW Police presumed Ms Caddick dead, after partial remains and a shoe, which were found along the NSW south coast in February, were forensically identified as belonging to her.
The 49-year-old was last seen on the evening of 11 November 2020. She was reported missing on 13 November.
ASIC had raised concerns that her firm Maliver may have been providing financial services without an AFSL, or with the AFSL of another company without authorisation, to unlawfully deal with investor funds.
The Federal Court made interim orders against Ms Caddick and Maliver in November, including a prohibition against her leaving Australia and removing assets held in Australia.
But Ms Caddick had not shown at the first case management hearing of the matter, having vanished.
ASIC moved to liquidate her assets in December.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].
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