What Can Go Wrong Till Enter The Whistleblower

Employees behaving badly is an online resource of information related to fraud crime cases that have been through the judicial system.

The purpose of this page is not to bring publicity or notoriety to those convicted of fraud but to hopefully prevent others from being victims of the same or similar type of fraud. Lessons can be learnt from these cases. Experience has shown that methods used in fraud unfortunately repeat or a recycled with a different twist.

What makes a crime case famous?

Usually because a famous person commits the crime or the crime makes them famous. With fraud it is generally the later. It is the committed by a person who would you least suspect, a trusted colleague or friend or family member.

The impact of fraud in Australia/New Zealand

Fraud continues to be the largest category of crime in Australia outstripping crimes of drugs, violence and property related offences. The Australian Institute of Criminology found in April 2008 that fraud accounts for 40% of crime costs at an estimated $8.5 billion. KPMG´s 2008 Australian/New Zealand Fraud Survey found the total value of fraud reported by the businesses surveyed was $301.1 million with an average value for each organisation of $1.5 million.

This impacts on all of us. It will only be contained if we, as a community, take steps to prevent and deter it. It is hoped education will play a part in reducing fraud.

We welcome contributions to Submission on our website is subject to the discretion and approval of the Your-Call editor. Remember the rule, the case must have been heard and determined by the Court. An acknowledgement of the contributor will be made with the article unless anonymity is sought.

We have elected not to focus on the large corporate scandals financial collapses of HIH, One Tel, Harris Scarfe and Pan Pharmaceuticals to name just a few but rather individuals who abuse the trust of their employers.

Employees behaving badly

The cases are not classified by offence type or monetary amount. Such classifications do not concern the victim of fraud. The cases published are drawn from completed Australia and New Zealand Court Cases and all information has been sourced from the public domain. Cases are in approximate date order of sentencing. We endeavour to keep them current and as this page grows will look at ways of indexing them for ease of reference.

The cases provide valuable lessons for employers. Whistleblowers played a role in the eventual unraveling of the crimes.

SANDRA CENTORAME: Jailed in September 2010 for three years, with a minimum of 15 months. Judge Taft jailed said the minimum term was reduced because of her illness. The former bookkeeper stole more than $1 million from the Camberwell business Chocolate Box Enterprises has been jailed. Sandra Centorame was the bookkeeper for 18 years but between 2002 and 2009, redirected $1.09 million into personal accounts. The County Court heard Centorame had become a trusted member of staff and had become part of the owners’ family. In sentencing yesterday, Judge Mark Taft said he would reduce the minimum term because of Centorame’s multiple sclerosis. Judge Taft said the theft had been ”a serious breach of trust” and a betrayal of her employer. The court was told that Centorame had repaid all she stole, which she used to pay for school fees, land rates and bills, among other expenses. The Judge said ”Your offending was a serious breach of trust undertaken over seven years involving a substantial benefit,” Judge Taft said. ”I accept you did not lead a life of affluently conspicuous consumption.” Centorame was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis nine years ago and now has leg weakness and stiffness, disabling fatigue and was participating in a drug trial for those with the disease. She will not be able to continue the trial, which involved taking new medicine, while in prison. Centorame, a married mother of three daughters, told police when arrested that she was stuck in a financial situation and thought she could repay the money. ”I needed it as a gap to tide me over until the next pay day and it snowballed from there,” she said. Chocolate Box Enterprises owner Gary Adler said in a victim impact statement that many of the staff now felt unsure about who they could trust and related the hurt and shock from the crimes, saying Centorame had ”obviously cheated on us as we chatted in the office”.

SONYA CAUSER: Jailed in August 2010 for 8 years a minimum of five years in jail before being eligible for parole. A former senior accountant embezzled more than $19 million from collapsed retailer Clive Peeters has been sentenced to eight years in jail. She pleaded guilty to 24 counts of theft in the Victorian Supreme Court. The mother of three embezzled more than $19 million from the retailer by transferring money from payroll accounts over a two-year period. Between July 2007 and July 2009, she made 90 withdrawals, involving 125 payments to eight bank accounts, stealing a total of $19,365,768. The court heard she used the money to invest in property, amassing 44 properties by mid-2009. She also bought herself a $110,000 car, a motorbike and vehicle for her husband and $17,000 in jewellery. When the theft was discovered during an audit, Causer initially lied about the fraud but later made full admissions. Justice John Forrest said the theft was one of the largest of its type in the state’s history and had been a calculated and sophisticated plan carried out over a lengthy period. Causer sold her own home as part of the restitution, leaving a shortfall of $3 million.

JANE SOTELO: Jailed in November 2009 in Australia for a maximum of three years. Sotelo, a former bank cash settlements officer, pleaded guilty to stealing more than $800,000. Judge Gerard Mullaly said yesterday that Jane Sotelo, 40 used sophisticated methods to “exploit flaws” in the bank’s security to steal the money over 22 months from November 2006. Judge Mullaly told Sotelo she was a trusted and experienced banks officer whose crime was “cunning and well planned”. In his sentencing remarks in the County Court, Judge Mullaly said no individual had been “ruined” or had suffered by her conduct and the bank had not sought compensation given the “futility” of the prospect. He said Sotelo, who had worked previously for Crown casino, showed no signs of enrichment and that what she stole was “wasted on gambling”.

ANTHONY WILBRAHAM: Jailed in August 2009 in New Zealand for three years. Wilbraham, a former lending manager of a Credit Union, pleaded guilty to 44 charges – 30 of fraudulently using a document to gain pecuniary advantage and 14 of accessing a computer for dishonest purposes. Judge Patrick Treston said the offending had caused “profound devastation” to a number of people. Between February 2001 and October 2008, Wilbraham created loan accounts under the names of existing customers withdrew money on a number of occasions and used it himself. In total, he took $280,592.37 and spent it on alcohol, bills, gambling and living expenses.
DAVID DENCH: Jailed in July 2008 for 14 months, 10 months of which were suspended. Dench, the former North Melbourne football club captain was sentenced for his part in a million-dollar fraud scheme. The court heard Dench took part in the scheme to defraud Victoria University by creating false invoices for maintenance work. In sentencing, Judge Wood said Dench was a cog in the machine to defraud Victoria University and his financial reward was minor. But he said Dench had shown no remorse and still denied his guilt despite strong evidence against him.

ANDREW WAKEFIELD: Jailed in 2008 for five years. Wakefield, a Senior Company Manager used more than $600,000 of the company’s promotional budget to help pay for a lavish lifestyle for himself and three other managers. Wakefield nicknamed the group the “gang of four” and used money to finance skiing and fishing trips and expensive clothing. He pleaded guilty to nine counts of being an officer defrauding a public company between September 2000 until he resigned in May 2004. The other managers have not been charged and, with the exception of one, were unlikely to face criminal charges, the Sydney District Court heard. The court heard the four received free holidays, clothes and entertainment from companies which Wakefield had paid using misappropriated funds from the company’s promotional budget.

Wakefield’s barrister, Guy Newton, had told the court that the scheme had been “entrenched” before his client started working there and that he had felt pressured to carry on with it. “He was more or less told that he should do it and he honestly believed that he would potentially lose his job if he didn’t do it.” However, Judge Michael King rejected that argument, saying that Wakefield had first become aware of the scheme in 1999 and had chosen to take part instead of exposing the crime. He further commented Wakefield “not only took over the pre-existing activities but took the offences to a new level by recruiting further firms and individuals to be parties to the deception…”

JACK AMANATIDIS: Jailed in 2008 for almost 3 years. Amanatidis, a former council worker pleaded guilty to defrauding the Council of almost $600,000. The Victorian County Court was told that while he worked at the council between 2005 and 2007, he systematically exploited its cheque system. His fraud funded gambling and luxury goods, a $50,000 family holiday to the United States and Disneyland, as well as a trip to Hong Kong. The Judge said the sentence had to send the message that white collar workers who abuse the trust of their employers would not escape punishment because of previously unblemished records.

MARLENE JACK: Jailed in 2007 for six months. Jack, a payroll officer with a Melbourne Cemetery stole more than $95,000 to feed her gambling addiction. She was sentenced in the Melbourne County Court after pleading guilty to stealing the money over 127 transactions between August 2003 and June 2005. The court heard that Jack, who had worked at the cemetery for 29 years, created false paperwork to convince the cemetery’s accountant that employees on leave had not been paid in advance. She then generated the funds into her account. In sentencing, Judge Roland Williams said Jack’s actions had involved “a considerable degree of planning and premeditation”. He said Jack began embezzling money when she had used all of her life savings and wages on pokies and had reached the limit of her credit cards on food and other living expenses.

GIANNI GRAY: Jailed in 2006 for one year and four months with a non-parole period of eight months. He was jailed for his role in one of Australia’s best known corporate scandals. The County Court in Melbourne was told that in a culture of profit Gray succumbed to peer pressure and entered a scam that eventually cost National Australia Bank $360 million. Gray, with three other former foreign exchange market traders, falsely claimed he had achieved a $37 million profit for the year to September 30, 2003, in an attempt to cover up a $5 million loss. The court heard the rogue traders falsified profits totalling $178.561 million between late 2003 and January 2004.Gray’s only intention was, the court heard, to “get the books clean” and rid his desk of hidden losses and dummy deals. “To get to that point I broke the rules and I am willing to accept the consequences,” Gray told investigators.

Judge Geoff Chettle sentenced him to one year and four months’ jail with a non-parole period of eight months. The judge said the sentence would have been more than two years’ jail had Gray not helped investigators and agreed to give evidence against alleged co-offenders in their trial. The court heard Gray received a performance bonus for 2003-04 of £36,000 ($87,000), which he has repaid.

He had been earning $240,000 a year – a salary Judge Chettle said proved the level of trust NAB had bestowed on him.

Note: The Senior trader David Bullen was later sentenced to a minimum of two and half years´ jail with Junior trader Vince Ficarra sentenced to serve a minimum of 15 months jail for their roles in creating false profits on NAB’s foreign currency trading desk.

RAYNA GEANEY: Jailed in 2005 for four years’ jail to be suspended after 15 months. Geaney, a former far north Queensland bank manager was jailed after she fraudulently obtained loans to pay for home renovations. She created fictitious loan applicants to obtain $95,000. She pleaded guilty to three charges of stealing as a servant while managing the Bank in Mareeba in 2002 and 2003.The District Court in Cairns heard the 35-year-old approved three personal loans to fictitious applicants after falsifying names, balances and assets. She had the bank cheques paid into other manufactured accounts and then withdrew the money to pay for home renovations. Judge Peter White accepted she was genuinely remorseful, had repaid the money and was unlikely to reoffend.

<strong>CHING YEE WU:</strong> Jailed in 2004 for six years, with a minimum of four years, and ordered to repay the money. Wu stole more than $1.65 million from her employer. Most of the money was spent on her “obsession” “” poker machines. Wu had been a member of a casino loyalty program for high-level gamblers since 1996. It was estimated that between 1996 and 2003 she had spent about $19.32 million on poker machines. The County Court heard that between 2001 and 2003, accounts manager Ching Yee Wu, 35, stole 174 cheques worth more than $1.46 million from her employer, a Motor Car Auctions company. From 1999 to 2003, Wu also paid herself an extra $193,243, in what Judge John Nixon described as a “calculated course of dishonest conduct”. Her actions had severely affected the company’s viability, he said.

GEORGE POURGOUTZIDIS: Jailed in 2004 for 5½ years with a three-year minimum for swindling his employer, a transport company of $4.5 million to feed his gambling addiction. His downfall, in 2003, was poker machines, which he played at Crown Casino. He would lose thousands of dollars in a night.

KIM FAITHFULL: Jailed in 2003 for stealing $18,998,309.36 over a period of five years, which fed an online gambling habit of up to $500,000 a week. He was at the time a bank branch Manager at Karratha WA. In 2002 Faithfull bet nearly $35 million. In sentencing, West Australian District Court Chief Judge Kevin Hammond said the increasingly frantic bets made by Faithfull meant “he must have seen disaster was looming”. Faithfull had electronically transferred cash from the bank to fund his spiralling gambling addiction, which peaked when he bet $7 million in a three-month period starting in November 2002.

WERNER KAESER: Jailed in 2003 for four years with a minimum term of two years and three months. Kaeser stole $2.14 million from his employer, a pump company, which he used to play poker machines. He pleaded guilty to 18 counts of theft between 1994 and 2001. Kaeser stole money by transferring small amounts from the company´s overseas account to its employees social club fund. Each year he stole at least $200,000 and in one year up to $400,000.

SAMUEL RODEN: Jailed in 2003 to a minimum of 27 months’ jail in 2002 after stealing $1.3 million from the family-owned importing business he worked as an accountant and bookkeeper. Victorian County Court Judge Frank Shelton heard Mr Roden spent $1.4 million at Crown Casino, visiting the venue three times a day and sometimes playing two poker machines at once.

JOHN MAIN: Jailed in 2003 for a maximum of four years with a minimum of two-and-half-years after pleading guilty to four counts of theft. Main, a Bank Manager at the time used loopholes in the bank’s system he had already warned his bosses about and set up a false account to steal $3.9 million over a five-and-a-half-year period beginning in 1994. Of that he spent $2.8 million on himself, including gambling and overseas trips, while the rest was used to cover his tracks. Victorian County Court Judge Peter Gebhardt said Main’s criminality did not arise from his gambling, rather it was used to service the habit. He further described the theft as “a blatant breach of trust” and a “pot pourri” of gambling, ingenuity, sophistication, stupidity and “some personal insecurity”.

DEIDRE FREDERICKSON: Jailed in 2002 for a maximum of five years after she pleaded guilty to three counts of theft. The former law clerk stole a total of $451,446, including almost $90,000 from a lonely widow who regarded her as a friend. The County Court heard Ms Frederickson visited poker machine venues four nights a week, spending up to $2000 on each occasion.

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