Supreme Court Hears Details of Former Surf Life Saving NSW $ 1.8 Million Fraud

Details of a series of frauds committed by sports executive Matthew Hanks while he was managing director of Surf Life Saving NSW before his arrest in 2019 have been detailed in the NSW Supreme Court.

Hanks, who has scammed a total of $ 1,839,845 over nearly a decade, pleaded guilty to six counts of fraud. However, his lawyers and the prosecution argue over the facts of the case.

As reported by The daily telegraph, one of his activities involved him charging a “ghost” delivery fee on the charity’s vehicles from car dealerships and then putting the extra money into his own fund.

The fraud, which grossed him over $ 1,318,000, involved adding up to $ 2,000 to each car’s bill, when Surf Life Saving NSW (SLS NSW) was exempt from dealership delivery charges.

Car salesman Matthew Baltussen, who worked for Bill Buckle and Phil McCarroll Toyota dealerships when dealing with Hanks, said the money would pile up and he believed Hanks was using it to buy more vehicles for SLS.

While there is no suggestion the car dealers have done anything wrong, Baltussen said he obtained permission from the owners of both dealerships before making the one-time deal with Hanks.

The court also heard that Carolyn Tremble, account manager for SLS NSW, said Hanks would rush to bills after installments and “insist” that she pay them immediately.

Tremble said this made it difficult to verify invoices.

Hanks also created a “cloud of confusion” in the finance department when he continued to edit details of the $ 1.6 million car fleet and who drove them, Trembly added.

Hanks also admitted defrauding the $ 400,000 organization by billing his own company, See Hear Speak, for SLS NSW print work, but outsourcing it to cheaper operators, pocketing the difference.

Volunteer CFO Philippa Butt told the court that after joining in 2013, she asked Hanks if there was a “related party” relationship with the printing company that needed to be reported and he replied that he there weren’t any.

Hanks also admitted to pocketing $ 121,000 by using a fictitious name to create a fake invoice for construction work done at the Port Macquarie Surf Club.

As reported by The daily telegraph, the court was informed that this was part of a $ 2 million grant made to the charity in the 2006/07 fiscal year by the NSW Department of Sports and Recreation, now Communities NSW.

Amelia Jenkins, Fundraising and Performance Manager for Communities NSW, told the court that $ 300,000 of that $ 2 million was for the Port Macquarie Club, with Hanks saying there had been “drama” and delays at the club.

The deceptions were discovered in mid-2016 and Hanks admitted to the fraud when he resigned from the organization.

Subsequently, two properties in Sydney and a $ 490,000 yacht were seized in civil proceedings brought by SLA NSW.

Hanks now lives in Wollongong with his partner and young child.

The court hearing continues.

Image: Matthew Hanks. Credit: Surf Life Saving NSW.

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