Romanian conman named in diamond death

A coroner has found a Romanian man was involved in the death of a Perth businessman who went missing more than nine years ago, along with $1 million in cash he had raised to import a cache of diamonds that didn't exist.

West Australian coroner Peter Collins on Monday found "all roads" led to the conclusion that Romanian-born Niculae Stoian, known as Nick Stuart, contributed to the death of grandfather Wayne Drewett, whose body has never been found.

Mr Stuart left Australia days after Mr Drewett went missing in April 2003, with evidence given to the inquest hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash left with him.

He has never returned.

WA Police are set to contact their Romanian counterparts, and the coroner's report will be sent to the Director of Public Prosecutions for consideration.

Mr Drewett's disappearance came after he became involved in a deal to import $1 million worth of diamonds into Australia, although police believe the gems never existed.

He was last seen by his wife Joyce on April 14, 2003.

He has not been heard from since a brief phone conversation the following day.

His pyjamas, lap top and briefcase were later found to be missing from his house, along with keys to his safety deposit box.

The inquest was told the Australian diamond deal bore all the hallmarks of previous scam in Romania in 1996 in which the financier disappeared and was presumed murdered.

The man at the centre of that deal was Mr Stuart, the coroner said.

He frequently talked to Mr Drewett on disguised mobile phones in the days before his disappearance.

The coroner said on April 11, Mr Drewett's safety deposit box had been "overflowing with cash" intended for the diamond deal.

Within a week, the cash was gone, as was any sign of Mr Drewett.

Mr Stuart then told friends he needed to fly to Romania urgently because his mother was unwell, selling his car, and trying to send wads of cash to Romania in a cardboard box.

Mr Stuart transferred $12,700 on his departure, declared a further $60,000 on exit from the country, and had a friend collect a bag containing between $100,000 and $200,000, which he later gave to police.

Mr Collins said he had no doubt Mr Drewett was dead, and Mr Stuart was involved, but his cause of death must remain "unascertainable".

"There is a substantial body of circumstantial evidence which points compellingly to the fact Mr Drewett has been the victim of foul play," the coroner said.

"There is an equally substantial body of circumstantial evidence pointing to the fact Nick Stuart had contributed to Mr Drewett's disappearance and death."

Mr Drewett's daughter Debra hopes Mr Stuart will be found.

"Hopefully some movement in Romania might help," she said.

"... Other people lost their money, but my father lost his life."

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