A high-flying Australian couple who appeared to live a picture-perfect life of luxury overseas are now behind bars accused of defrauding almost $600,000 from investors.
Investment advisor Luka Matak and his travel blogger wife Adriana Kupresak have been holed up in Croatia’s Remetinec Prison on the outskirts of capital Zagreb since their arrest earlier this month.
The former Sydney couple are accused of defrauding five people of around 350,000 euros (A$587,000).
No charges have been laid and the couple deny any wrongdoing.
Remetinec jail is Croatia’s largest prison, is renowned for its overcrowding and has been described as worse than jails in Russia.
A former Croatian prime minister, a Nazi war criminal and a Russian activist are among current and previous inmates.
It’s a stark contrast to the lavish life the Mataks previously enjoyed, with pictures showing them enjoying first-class flights, Michelin-starred restaurant meals, VIP boxes at football matches, Rolex watches and Hermes handbags while splitting their time between London and Croatia.
Luka Matak and his travel blogger wife Adriana Kupresak are accused of defrauding investors
The couple also enjoyed a stint in Dubai during Covid lockdowns.
Sources allege Mr Matak received £2.5million ($4.9million) from investors in Croatia, Britain and Australia who were promised returns of up to 20 per cent a year, The Daily Telegraph reported
Mr Matak described himself in UK company documents as a ‘hedge fund director’ who started investing when he was 15, ‘purely as a hobby, starting with $2,000’.
He boasted in a promotional brochure for the ‘Hedgehog Capital Fund’ that the nest egg has swelled to $100,000 by the time he graduated from Macquarie University in 2015 and he now had £6million ($11.3million) – half the money in the fund.
The brochure claims the fund was run by Mr Matak and British property developer Alax Waxman, who now claims he never got
‘I invested some money and then when I wanted to take the money back it wasn’t forthcoming,’ he told the publication.
Another UK investor invested £150,000 ($283,000) with Mr Matak after the pair first met through their respective partners in 2021.
When he requested to withdraw his money, he claims he was given ‘bulls**t excuses’ for months by Mr Matak, who eventually went to Croatia allegedly without giving back the investor’s money.
Adriana Matak (nee Kupresak) was a glamorous travel blogger prior to her arrest
An Australian investor who claimed he had known Mr Matak since primary school invested $45,000 with him in 2017 and three other friends put in similar amounts.
When the investors asked for their money back, they claim Mr Matak failed to return the cash.
Ms Matak worked for the Croatian Tourist Board for several years and ran a tourism blog, which has been taken down.
She opened up on previous struggles with alcohol and addiction in a piece for Life as a Human magazine in 2020.
‘I am open about my new journey and past struggles because I know what it’s like to contemplate taking your own life and I know what it’s like to look for any reason not to,’ she wrote
‘It’s ironic because as a travel blogger I always looked for the road less traveled and as an addict, sought the road most had already traveled.
‘I am living proof that you can turn your life around and live the life of your dreams, you just need to give yourself a real honest chance.’
The article mentions Ms Matak’s work had been previously published on Lonely Planet and The Huffington Post.
Luka Matak and his wife Adriana deny any wrongdoing and no charges have yet been laid despite spending the last three weeks behind bars
Russian activist Aisoltan Niyazova, who is associated with the anti-Putin group Pussy Riot, will never forget her week-long stint at Remetinec Prison in 2022.
She shared a cell with seven other women and got two hours of fresh air in a small dark area between two buildings.
Male inmates can exercise in a large courtyard, which has a volleyball field, ping-pong tables and badminton courts.
‘You’d think nothing could be worse than a Russian prison, but I can officially confirm that Croatian prisons are a hundred times worse,’ Niyazova told news website Meduza last year.
Former Croatian prime minister Ivor Sanader is currently serving an eight-year sentence in Remetinec Prison.
It’s also where World War II concentration camp commander Dinko Šakić spent his final days before he died in 2008.
The Mataks have swapped their lavish lifestyles for crowded cells in Remetinec Prison