By Sonia Hickey and Ugur Nedim
Former National Australia Bank executive Rosemary Rogers has been arrested and charged for her alleged role in an alleged $40 million dollar fraud against the brank.
Ms Rogers, the former chief of staff to ex-NAB CEO Andrew Thorburn has been charged with 56 counts of corruptly receiving a benefit as an agent and two counts of fraud.
It’s alleged that she spent more than $6.5 million to cover personal expenses for others to maintain a relationship with NAB.
Bribes to maintain business relationships
As previously reported, detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad established Strike Force Napthali last year to investigate allegations of corrupt commissions being paid for contracts with a financial institution.
Police alleged that NAB executives, including Ms Rogers, accepted multiple extravagant bribes to approve greatly inflated invoices submitted to the bank for services provided by Sydney-based events and human resources company Human Group.
The arrest of Ms Rogers follows that of Helen Rosamond, the owner and CEO of Human Group.
Police allege that Ms Rosamond was behind the various benefits paid to Ms Rogers between 2013 and 2017, including holidays, multiple trips on private jets, helicopter flights and luxury cruises around the world.
The Magistrate who presided over the bail applications for both women, Robert Williams, describing the alleged offending “as quite a sophisticated operation.”
Both have been granted bail on strict bail conditions, including that they do not contact one another, nor any other prosecution witnesses, that they report daily to police, forfeit their passports and that a surety deposit substantial security to the court.
Corruptly receiving commissions or rewards
Section 249B of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW)(‘the Act’) prescribes a maximum penalty of 7 years imprisonment for any agent who corruptly receives or solicits from another person any benefit:
- As an inducement or reward for, or otherwise on account of, doing or not doing something, or having done or not having done something, or showing or not showing, or having shown or not having shown, favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal, or
- The receipt or any expectation of which would tend to influence the agent to show, or not show, favour or disfavour to any person in relation to the affairs or business of the agent’s principal.
An ‘agent’ is defined by section 249A to include any person acting on behalf of the principal in any capacity, or purporting or intending to do so.
Section 192E of the Act sets down a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison for any person who obtains property belonging to another, or obtains any financial advantage or causes a financial disadvantage to another, where this is done dishonestly by any deception.
To establish the offence, the prosecution must prove that:
- By a deception, the defendant acted dishonestly, and
- These actions created a financial advantage over another person’s property, or caused them to suffer a financial disadvantage, and
- The actions were intentional or reckless.
If the prosecution is unable to prove each of these elements beyond a reasonable doubt, the defendant is entitled to an acquittal.
Finance and Banking executives facing prosecution
Several other NAB executives may also face criminal prosecution in the wake of the Royal Commission into Finance and Banking, over the fees for no service scandal.
Similarly, AMP executives could also face prosecution for ‘fees for no service’ as well as for obstructing investigations by and providing misleading information to the Australian Investment and Securities Commission.
In the midst of the Royal Commission hearings last year, as explosive testimony revealed systemic misconduct in some of our biggest financial institutions, the Government pledged more $51.5 million in funding to ensure the Federal Court and Commonwealth Prosecutors have sufficient resources to ensure financial institutions are brought to account.
The stories of high flying executives such as Rosemary Rogers and Helen Rosamond falling from grace and into the long arms of the law are likely to continue to dominate the news headlines and the courts for months to come as executives face the consequences of white collar crime.