01.02.2019 at 00:38
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Hearing Set For Former "High-Flying" Real Estate Agent

Director of elite high-end real estate agency Unique Estates appeared in court yesterday.

Nicolette Van Wijngaarden appeared before the Downing Centre Local Court yesterday on 10 charges related to fraud.

Ms Van Wijngaarden was the founder and director of the now-bankrupt real estate agency Unique Estates, which she started in 2009, and which operated in Albert Park, Double Bay on the Gold Coast, and Melbourne.

The agency specialised in luxury properties.

In 2010 Unique Estates won best marketing awards for both Australia and the Asia Pacific region. In 2014 it won an award for best website.

The company also published a magazine called Unique Luxury, which was distributed in Qantas airports across Australia.

Ms Van Wijngaarden's charges include dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, and 5 charges of being an accessory to offences committed by a corporation.

Michael Allen, NSW's Deputy Chief Magistrate, will allow Ms Van Wijngaarden to remain on bail.

The next step is a committal hearing, in which it will be determined whether Ms Van Wijngaarden must face trial.

According to court documents, Ms Van Wijngaarden still lives in the upscale inner city suburb Elwood.

Last October, she was ordered to surrender her Australian and Dutch passports. She is prohibited from entering any international airport or "point of departure from Australia".

As part of her bail arrangement she must report to the St Kilda police station every week.

In February 2018, all Unique Estates staff were terminated via email, and in June the company went into liquidation.

A lengthy investigation by forensic accountants found that the agency's bank account was empty, and creditors were owed more than $4 million.

The company also owed the Australian Taxation Office $933,000 and $95,000 to the NSW Office of State Revenue.

The specific charges laid against Ms Van Wijngaarden at the time were 5 counts of fraudulent conversion of trust account money, and 10 charges of fraud under the NSW Crimes Act.

Each of the original charges could bring a sentence of up to 10 years in jail.

In an earlier statement to the media, the Department of Finance said "The total quantum of money involved in all charges alleged is in excess of $3.5 million."

Her committal hearing has been set for March 12.

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