A group of Queenslanders are accusing a California businessman locked up in a Los Angeles jail of duping them out of as much as $A7 million.
A California businessman locked up in a Los Angeles jail accused of $US70 million ($A77.8 million) fraud also wreaked financial havoc in Queensland while on the run from US authorities, a lawyer representing his alleged Australian victims said.
Eminiano “Jun” Reodica, 69, was considered an American success story in the 1980s when he went from working as a busboy in LA restaurants to owning one of the largest car dealerships in the US.
But when investigators began probing the business as it was collapsing in 1988, the Filipino-born Reodica vanished before reappearing in Queensland in the early 1990s under the name Roberto Coscolluela.
Coscolluela operated Richard Gardner Tax Agency and RC Insurance Pty Ltd in Brisbane.
Carl Desacola, a lawyer from Caloundra-based firm TayLAW Solicitors, is representing 26 people in Queensland who accuse Coscolluela of duping them out of as much as $A7 million.
The lawyer estimates there could be up to 500 Australian families affected by the Filipino-born businessman.
In one case, Coscolluela convinced a widow to invest a $A250,000 superannuation and insurance payment she received after her husband died with the promise of a 10 to 15 per cent return.
When she tried to collect her money, she discovered Coscolluela did not invest it where he said he would and refused to give it back, Mr Desacola said.
Despite alleged victims’ complaints, Australian authorities have not charged Coscolluela.
Queensland Police, ASIC and the Tax Practitioners Board all declined to comment.
“The only avenue we had left unfortunately was the civil process,” Mr Desacola said.
In November 2012, on the eve of the widow’s case being heard in the Brisbane Supreme Court, Coscolluela and his wife Letti tried to fly to Canada. When the plane stopped in Los Angeles a fingerprint check at Los Angeles International Airport revealed he was the fugitive Reodica.
US prosecutors have filed a 51-count indictment against him alleging bank fraud and false statements on loan applications dating back to the 1980s.
He allegedly defrauded his Grand Wilshire Group’s lenders, which had extended $US300 million ($A333.3 million) in credit lines, of about $US70 million ($A77.8 million).
His trial is set for August 19 in Los Angeles and he faces up to 30 years in prison if convicted.