'Spiritual healer' charged over major money-laundering scam
A spiritual healer and a CEO from Sydney's south are accused of working together to siphon millions in hard-earned savings from Australian investors into offshore accounts.
Holistic health coach Jamie Close and CEO of an international investment firm Mark Estephan have been charged with using $2.3 million of investor funds as part of an intricate international money-laundering operation.
The pair are accused of luring in investors under the guise of Estephan's successful company - A.C.E Global Consultancy - offering low-risk, high-return investments.
Detectives followed the money trail throughout a nine-month investigation and claim to have found cash transferred into accounts in Europe, Asia and the Middle East.
"They were purporting to be a reputable investment company. People would then look at this and believe that it was a worthy investment and their return would be worth their while," Police Area Commander, Superintendent Jason Box said.
The company claimed to be an "award-winning management firm with world-class consultants" in online advertisements, promising to connect clients with a "global network of outstanding professionals."
At least ten investors have come forward claiming to be victims of the scam - one who lost a million dollars, according to police.
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"It's life shattering for someone people. It's their hard-earned money they've put away to invest to try to make a profit and they've lost it all," Mr Box said.
Investigators executed search warrants at two homes in Cronulla and Kirrawee yesterday, seizing more than $170,000 in cash, 64 kilograms of silver bullion worth an estimated $55,000, and two ounces of gold bullion worth an estimated $5000.
A 49-year-old man was arrested at the Kirrawee home and charged with more than 18 fraud-related offences, as well as two counts of goods in personal custody suspected being stolen, and two counts of deal with property proceeds of crime greater than $100,000.
A 40-year-old man was also arrested and subsequently charged with 41 counts of providing a remittance service while unregistered, dealing with property proceeds of crime greater than $10,000, and having goods in suspected of being stolen.
Both men were denied bail, appearing before the court today.
Police said the crimes are a reminder to anyone planning to invest their money online.
"It's a timely reminder for people to make sure they check online the credentials of companies they give money to."