Coca-Cola shareholders duped by dodgy scheme
A Sydney accountant has had his bank accounts frozen and a caveat slapped over his North Shore mansion and car after being charged with stealing money from shareholders both dead and alive.
Nigel Edmund Tolley was appointed trustee for unclaimed funds after a firm, Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company, was delisted.
He was was supposed to contact and distribute funds to shareholders.
But he now has the NSW Crime Commission on his tail after it emerged he was still holding in a bank account some of the $6.25 million he was meant to return to shareholders after being charged earlier this year with several offences.
Police allege Tolley made interest off the unclaimed shareholders' money and then funnelled the profit into other accounts held in the names of himself and his wife, Belgium-born author Dorine Tolley.
Mrs Tolley is not accused of any wrongdoing.
The crime commission now has a restraining order over his bank accounts, a red Alfa Romeo which Mrs Tolley proudly posed with in social media posts, their East Killara home and shares. Sydney fraud detectives had charged the 71-year-old in March with more than a dozen offences, including obtain financial advantage by deception and knowingly deal with proceeds of crime.
The retired accountant is accused of holding $6.25 million in unclaimed shares that weren't his after the Coca-Cola Hellenic Bottling Company - an international bottler for the beverage giant - delisted from the Australian Stock Exchange in 2009.
In November 2009 thousands of letters were sent to shareholders about money owed to them from the delisting. More than 4000 shareholders didn't reply, often because they'd changed address or had died since their initial investment.
As trustee, Tolley was expected to hold the unclaimed funds in a trust account while he sought to find the entitled shareholders. Any unclaimed money, including funds that belonged to now dead investors, should have been transferred to Revenue NSW.
Between 2010 and 2011, Computer Share, an Australia stock transfer company, directed $6,256,853.39 to Tolley.
Tolley then allegedly told the Commonwealth Bank to transfer the credit earned on those funds - held in three term deposited accounts - to a cash investment account he had set up.
According to the judgment, Tolley sold his accounting practice, which he ran out of his East Killara home, but kept the unclaimed shareholder money.
Court documents state he allegedly transferred more than $1.1 million between 2013 and 2018. Sometimes the money was transferred through multiple accounts and "mingled" with other money, court documents reveal.
In April, Justice Richard Cavanagh granted a NSW Crime Commission application to alter the restraining order on Tolley's accounts so the unclaimed money could be accessed and paid to shareholders.
The court ordered Tolley and his wife be grilled by a registrar about any property interests they have that authorities haven't found.
The NSW Crime Commission also placed a caveat over the couple's five bedroom Koola Ave home. Tolley is on bail and due to face court on August 27.
Originally published as Coca-Cola shareholders duped by dodgy scheme