By then, Mr Adler had moved into money-lending. He knew through acquaintances that Mr Kaftel came from a wealthy family in South Africa and, through a combination of bad choices and bad luck, had been reduced to borrowing and scrounging for money to support his car wash business.
The pair met in a coffee shop, where Mr Kaftel appealed in emotional terms for a $50,000 loan.
“He was crying in front of me,” Mr Adler told the jury, explaining why he had agreed to an unsecured loan. “He was throwing the Jewish card on the table, the family card on the table. ‘Please help me.’ And I, because of my family history, decided to do a nice thing.”
Mr Adler agreed to half that amount, but around the time his first interest payment was due Mr Kaftel appealed for another $10,000. “I really appreciate our warm relationship and your kindness and help,” Mr Kaftel wrote in an email in April 2018. Mr Adler declined.
Two weeks later, Mr Kaftel tried again. “I’m your best collateral,” he wrote. “I need this extra help.”
But Mr Adler was losing patience. “Stan, I don’t understand this,” he replied. “I can’t deal with this type of emotional response. I’ve done everything I possibly can.”
If he had known that Mr Kaftel was an undischarged bankrupt, he told the jury, he would have been “mortified”.
In fact, it was the third occasion on which Mr Kaftel had borrowed money from a lender without disclosing he was an undischarged bankrupt. He pleaded guilty to the same offence in a local court in November 2017.
In May 2018, Mr Adler’s executive assistant sent Mr Kaftel a letter of demand. He accused her of threatening him, but backed down when Mr Adler came to her defence. By the end of the month, Mr Kaftel was back to pleading for more money.
“You are carrying on with me over such a small sum when you have such a fortune,” he wrote.
Mr Adler obtained a default judgment against Mr Kaftel in June 2018 for $24,170.52 and some time after that Mr Kaftel disappeared. It would later transpire that he had been sent to jail for the previous offences.
Mr Adler asked to be added to the list of creditors and the Australian Financial Security Authority opened a new investigation that resulted in this month’s trial.
When the jury read out its guilty verdict on Monday afternoon, Mr Kaftel – whose family made its fortune selling auto parts – bowed his head. He wore shiny black shoes and an expensive-looking watch. “I’m devastated,” he said.
Harriet Alexander is a reporter for the Herald.