In Australia and the man behind the former The Edge horserace betting scheme has reportedly pled guilty to two charges associated with allegations that he had defrauded clients out of more than $11.72 million over a six year-period from 2008.
According to a report from the Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC), Bill Vlahos (pictured) entered his guilty plea at the County Court of Victoria on Monday after being charged in 2016 and has now had his bail extended in advance of a February 4 pre-sentencing hearing.
Citing official court documents, ABC reported that the 54-year-old is alleged to have established The Edge enterprise in 2002 and began promising thoroughbred horseracing fans the chance to earn big rewards by allowing him to wager on their behalf. However, prosecutors purportedly claim that this program soon morphed into nothing more than a simple ‘Ponzi scheme’ that eventually defrauded some 35 syndicates involving 68 people out of millions of dollars.
Betrayal of trust:
ABC reported that Melbourne-based Vlahos claimed to have had a system that helped him to identify winning horses and that he would place bets on behalf of his investors in exchange for 5% of any winnings. But, prosecutors purportedly allege that the dishonest entrepreneur was instead using the accumulated stakes to pay out other investors and service his ‘unrelated personal expenditure,’ which had included establishing a number of businesses such as a stud farm and a wine distribution enterprise. The broadcaster detailed that the disgraced businessman was moreover thought to have spent some of his clients’ funds on business-class travel, a holiday home, school fees in Singapore and luxury cars and clothes.
The broadcaster reported that The Edge scheme began to unravel in December of 2013 when Vlahos filed for bankruptcy after several syndicate leaders sought to cash out because they were not receiving any returns. Court documents purportedly indicate that the Australian had initially sought to assuage investor fears by sending them doctored screen shots of bank account records showing a balance over $114 million when the actual tally had been closer to $1,470.
A Monday story from News Corp Australia detailed that Vlahos was granted bail after his lawyer submitted evidence showing that the businessman was now broke and did not have the financial capability to flee the country. The broadcaster furthermore explained that Judge Douglas Trapnell is set to officiate at the early-February court date with the defendant now facing the real prospect of being sentenced to a term in prison.