Unique Estates founder Nicolette van Wijngaarden faces 15 fraud charges

Unique Estates founder Nicolette van Wijngaarden faces 15 fraud charges
Unique Estates founder Nicolette van Wijngaarden faces 15 fraud charges

The founder of Unique Estates, Nicolette van Wijngaarden, faces up to 10 years jail if found guilty of the fraud charges following the collapse of her national estate agency.

The 15 charges were laid after an investigation by forensic accountants.

The NSW Department of Finance told The Echo, her local Byron Bay newspaper, that Ms van Wijngaarden, 44, was currently on bail, due to appear for mention in Sydney’s Downing Centre local court on November 8.

It was front page news today in the town newspaper.

Unique Estates founder Nicolette van Wijngaarden faces 15 fraud charges

The 44-year-old faces five counts under section 211(2) of the Property, Stock and Business Agents Act 2002, allegations that relate 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.

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 published the magazine Unique Luxury, which was distributed in Qantas lounges across the country.

The agency collapsed in February.

The ATO emerged among the biggest creditors.

"Bank accounts are frozen and there are no funds," was the blunt message to staff as McGrath Nicol was appointed joint managers by the NSW Department of Fair Trading

The agency had won a string of awards over the years including the Best Real Estate Agency Website for Asia Pacific 2017-2018 at the International Property Awards Grand Final Ceremony held in London.

It is not the first time a high-flying Byron agent has been caught up in trust account issues.

The now defunct Byron Bay real estate agency Belle Property was the subject of an earlier investigation by the Department of Fair Trading.

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor

Jonathan Chancellor is one of our authors. Jonathan has been writing about property since the early 1980s and is editor-at-large of Property Observer.

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Nicolette Van Wijngaarden Unique Estates

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