Police are working their way through materials which, they suspect, may implicate former NAB Chief Executive Andrew Thorburn’s Chief of Staff, Rosemary Rogers, in a scheme involving millions of dollars in fraudulent payments to the owner of a service company.
Company director charged
43-year old owner-director of event and human resources company ‘Human Group’, Helen Rosamond, has been charged with 56 counts of corruptly receiving commissions or rewards, as well as obtaining a financial benefit by deception.
The charges arise from a scheme whereby she allegedly paid multiple bribes from 2013 to 2017 in order to secure the approval of greatly inflated invoices to NAB, totalling around $40 million.
It is alleged the bribes included an extravagant trip to the United States costing $485,000, multiple stays at a luxurious resort, helicopter transfers, boat trips and pre-paid credit cards.
The arrest follows police raids on the North Sydney offices of Human Group, as well as at properties in Potts Point and Milsons Point, during which officers allegedly seized “a warehouse” of documents.
Those materials are being examined with a view to accumulating evidence against Ms Rosamond and others suspected to have been involved in the scheme.
Ms Rosamond appeared via audio-visual link in Central Local Court on Friday, where she was granted bail on strict conditions including that she surrender her passport, report daily to police and that a surety deposit security in the sum of $200,000.
The case has been adjourned to enable police to serve the brief of evidence.
Police Strike Force
The NSW Police Force formed Strike Force Napthali in February 2018 as a result of information obtained from an NAB whistle blower regarding the fraudulent transactions.
Assistant Police Commissioner Stuart Smith has told the media that forensic accountants from both the police and NAB have spent thousands of hours trawling through financial documents and accounts, which have provided substantial evidence that the bank has been the victim of fraud on a scale “we have never seen before”.
Ms Rogers has not been arrested or charged with any offence. She held the position of the former CEO’s Chief of Staff for nine years before resigning in December 2017.
Last month, the NSW and Victorian Supreme Courts issued freezing orders over her assets, which include a $6.2 million property portfolio, a $1 million NAB bank cheque and three bank accounts.
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.