The Sunshine Coast mansion at the centre of a French investigation.
The Sunshine Coast mansion at the centre of a French investigation.

Coast waterfront mansion link to French fraud

A SUNSHINE Coast mum's palatial waterfront mansion could be sold from under her after it was allegedly bought with stolen money.

The $5 million Minyama home, owned by the daughter of a bankrupt French businessman accused of embezzling $30 million from investors, has been frozen by a Brisbane court.

The four-bedroom mansion was frozen by a District Court judge on March 12 after the Australian Federal Police's criminal assets confiscation taskforce applied to the court, arguing the order would protect the "integrity of Australia's financial system" and ensure "Australia avoids becoming a safe haven for criminals to locate their proceeds of crime".

 

Gabrielle Helfrich and daughter Anne-Michelle Kay. Picture: Facebook
Gabrielle Helfrich and daughter Anne-Michelle Kay. Picture: Facebook

 

The order by Judge Nathan Jarro is Australian recognition of an order to "seize" the Minyama home, made by a French judge last year.

The court heard French authorities allege the man's daughter Anne-Michelle Kay, formerly Anne-Michelle Helfrich, is not the legal owner because the home was bought using stolen money.

Ms Kay is not accused of any wrongdoing in the case.

The palatial home was purchased in 2014 using $5 million allegedly defrauded from investors by French citizen Laurent Helfrich, 57, who now lives in Switzerland.

Land title records show the home is owned by Ms Kay, a married mother of two and Australian resident French national.

The home is owned outright, court documents state.

Ms Kay asked her father to pay for the home, and to pay her husband Brendan Kay a salary, the court heard.

She "constantly" chatted to her father - who is alleged to have been a part of a $30 million Ponzi scheme - using Whatsapp, the court heard.

The French court has also ordered the ANZ bank to freeze Helfrich's wife Gabrielle's Australian bank account, to the value of $30 million. She has also been charged with money laundering by authorities.

Mr Helfrich is accused of duping investors into believing his companies were developing nursing homes in Germany, building solar panels or a system to convert plastic and waste into fuel.

Laurent Helfrich was ­arrested in April 2017 and charged with fraud, embezzlement, criminal conspiracy and money laundering in France and other parts of Europe, and faces up to ten years jail, court documents state.

He denies the charges, claims to be a victim, and spent two months in prison in 2017 before being released on bail to live with his other daughter in France.

It's not the first time Helfrich has been in trouble. He was sentenced to two years prison for fraud in 2003, the court heard.

Calls to Mr and Ms Kay went unanswered.



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