Nicolette van Wijngaarden jailed for trust fund account fraud

Nicolette van Wijngaarden jailed for trust fund account fraud
Staff reporterDecember 7, 2020

Nicolette van Wijngaarden, 45, the founder of the boutique estate agency Unique Estates, has been sentenced to more than three years in jail for trust fund account fraud.

Van Wijngaarden was charged after she went to NSW Fair Trading who then calculated she misused $3.69 million between 2016 and early 2018.

Van Wijngaarden was sentenced to three years and six months jail by Judge John Pickering on Thursday, with a non-parole period of one year and nine months.

Van Wijngaarden – whose main offices where in Byron Bay, Sydney and Melbourne – told the court she made “the very stupid mistake” when taking money from the trust account out of desperation not to let anyone down.

Judge Pickering noted he wanted the real estate industry to know that those committing trust account offences would not escape jail time.

Her amount was the biggest real estate fraud in New South Wales real estate history.

"There has to be conformity before the law and there has to be general deterrence," Judge Pickering said.

Her clients included Chris Hemsworth and Collette Dinnigan, who was among the victims.

Unique Estates was started in 2009.

Van Wijngaarden will be eligible for parole on August 20, 2021.

“I stupidly thought I could pay it back,” she told the court in September.

She faced up to 10 years in jail.

Thinking the cash flow issues were short-term and seasonal, she claimed any lavish expenses, including the cars, flowers and travel were tied to the business.

“I’m completely devastated that I’m sitting here today, horrified that people have been let down,” she said.

Editor's Picks