A multi-millionaire businessman dragged his ex-wife’s closest friends into a WhatsApp group and bombarded them with a ‘degrading’ image of her.
Rennie De Maria, 54, who made millions through an insurance broking empire, pleaded guilty to circulating an intimate image of his former wife to some of her closest pals.
De Maria, who lives in a mansion with a private helipad and three hole golf course, was rebuked for his ‘sheer gutlessness’ at Mansfield Magistrates’ Court.
The businessman set up a WhatsApp group called ‘Good Luck’ on May 11, 2021, adding at least five friends of his ex-wife to it.
Rennie De Maria, 54 who made millions with his insurance broking empire, is pictured on a private plane with a glass of champagne
He then shared 34 images to the group, including an intimate photo of his former wife and private correspondence between them, without her consent.
In a witness impact statement read to the court, his ex-wife said she suffered ‘stress, anxiety and depression, and I have a constant sick feeling about how I was degraded’.
During an interview with police in Mansfield, 180km northeast of Melbourne, on May 20 last year, De Maria said he was drinking heavily and taken prescription medication at the time of the incident, The Age reported.
His barrister, Rahmin de Kretser, urged magistrate Peter Mithen not to convict him because it could prevent him from travelling to America, where he has business interests.
Mr de Kretser said De Maria was a proud father who had raised millions for charity.
Rennie De Maria (pictured) enjoys private jets, sports cars and holidays on the Italian Riviera
But Mr Mithen convicted De Maria over the publication of the image and a breach of a family violence intervention order. He was fined $1,500.
‘I’m having trouble reconciling the fact that he says he’s a proud father of his children but commits this offence against the mother of his daughter,’ the magistrate said.
‘My view of the offence is that it was one of sheer gutlessness, it takes no courage to do what you did.’
De Maria, who is under investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission, sold his house in the Melbourne suburb of Toorak for about $9 million last year.
ASIC obtained interim orders in the Federal Court in May last year against Alliance Insurance Broking Services Pty Ltd and De Maria, who was its sole director.
The orders prevented De Maria and AIBS from transferring funds from five business accounts and a personal account held by him.
It also stopped the selling off of property or assets held by De Maria or the company.
‘In support of its application for the interim orders, ASIC alleged that De Maria caused substantial client money held by AIBS to be improperly paid into a bank account for his own personal benefit,’ ASIC stated in a media on July 13, 2021.
Multi-millionaire businessman Rennie De Maria (pictured) enjoys the high life, but has been convicted for circulating an intimate image of his former wife
‘As an Australian financial services licence holder dealing in financial products, AIBS is required to hold client money in trust.’
AIBS was sold for $24.5 million last August, and the freezing order was removed last month.
After selling the Toorak mansion, De Maria, who enjoys private jets, sports cars, and holidays on the Italian Riviera, lives in Merrijig, near Mansfield, in a house with eight bedrooms and a library.
Daily Mail Australia attempted to contact De Maria for comment.