A decomposed foot belonging to alleged Sydney conwoman Melissa Caddick has been found washed up on a remote southern New South Wales beach more than three months after her disappearance.
Caddick vanished the day after corporate watchdog, the Australian Securities and Investment Commission (ASIC) executed a search warrant at her luxury Dover Heights home on Nov. 11.
Court-appointed liquidators allege she “meticulously and systematically” deceived investors who handed millions of dollars to her over seven years, then used the money to fund her extravagant lifestyle.
Caddick’s decomposed foot was on found by startled campers more than 400km from her home on Feb. 21, police revealed on Friday.
DNA testing confirmed on Thursday night the foot belonged to the 49-year-old financial planner.
“It remains a mystery as to when and how she came into the water and, again, that will be subject of ongoing investigations,” Assistant Commissioner Michael Willing told reporters.
Investigators cannot rule out foul play, Willing said. But they suspect Caddick died by suicide.
“Given the circumstances of the disappearance (and) the fact that she left personal belongings behind, we’ve always considered the possibility that she might have taken her own life,” he said.
Modelling by police marine rescue teams, taking tides and drift patterns into account, has been conducted around the possibility of Caddick entering the water in Sydney’s Dover Heights area on or about Nov. 12.
Analysis of the foot-found inside a shoe-will help investigators determine when she died.
“It was decomposed so obviously it had been in the water for some time,” Willing said.
Police will continue to search for Caddick’s remains around the location of the foot at Bournda Beach, south of Tathra.
Liquidators appointed to deal with Caddick’s affairs on Wednesday said they were unable to find a single example of a legitimate investment in the name of the investor.
Instead, Caddick mixed “many, many millions” of investors’ funds in company bank accounts and her own personal accounts.
She then used the money to fund an “extravagant lifestyle” and property purchases, according to provisional liquidator Bruce Gleeson.
Caddick provided investors with hundreds of documents on Commonwealth Bank and CommSec letterheads suggesting their investments were doing well.
But really the account numbers on the documents either did not exist, or were not associated with the actual investor.
Investors were deceived from the very start, as her company Maliver Pty Ltd did not hold a financial services licence as claimed.
Caddick’s husband and son from Friday won’t be paid living and legal expenses out of her assets.
The matter is back in the Federal Court in April, when Gleeson and his partner will ask to be appointed as ongoing liquidators so they can start realising Maliver’s “limited” assets.
Willing said the police were working alongside ASIC on the matter.
By Tiffanie Turnbull and Angelo Risso