More than two years after she went missing, a NSW coroner has determined that Australian fraudster Melissa Caddick is dead, but admits authorities don’t know how she died.
Caddick, 49, went missing in December 2020, hours after investigators conducted a raid on her Sydney home. After disappearing, it was revealed that she had been running a Ponzi scheme, convincing 72 investors many—close friends from her eastern suburbs community—to give $23 million towards a ‘sham’ financial services business, according to The Guardian.
The business was under investigation by Australian Securities & Investments Commission (ASIC) before she vanished, with a raid of her property in Dover Heights taking place on November 11.
Three months after disappearing, on February 21, 2021, a right running shoe, containing the human remains of a foot, was found washed up on Bournda beach, on the far south coast of New South Wales. Upon DNA testing, the foot was confirmed to be Caddick’s but the cause of death wasn’t immediately able to be determined.
It was also difficult to tell how it became detached from the body; whether it was simply the result of decomposition from months in the water or blunt force. During the inquest, a surgeon explained that it was unlikely Caddick had amputated her foot.
“It was possible that Ms Caddick’s body had gone into the water at innumerable coastal points between Hobart and Brisbane,” she said.
The inquest also noted the lack of candour shown by Caddick’s husband, Anthony Koletti, who claimed to have no knowledge of the Ponzi scheme when giving evidence in 2022.
Coroner Ryan said it was “notable” that each police officer that dealt with Mr Koletti suspected he knew more than he was divulging.
“The inescapable conclusion I have reached is that throughout the investigation and the inquest Mr Koletti has chosen at times to make statements that are simply untrue,” she said.
“Explanations which he offered for the many contradictions between and within his various accounts simply did not make sense.
“I have concluded that during the period 11 to 13 November 2020 he had some awareness of Ms Caddick’s movements over the previous two days, but he chose not to disclose it.”
While the findings do shed some light on Caddick’s final days, they do not make the loss of those she defrauded any easier.
As Ryan described, “Ms Caddick’s clients were shocked and felt a profound sense of betrayal when they discovered the money they invested with her had gone. The financial and emotional harm they have suffered will continue to reverberate for many years to come.”