Fraudster jailed after taking $776,000 from business

A SUNSHINE Coast man has been sent to jail after filtering about $776,000 from his company's bank accounts into his own while the business was in financial strife.

He also concealed this activity by altering bank statements before they reached the company's accountants.

Former Wickham Securities chief executive Garth Peter Robertson, 50, pleaded guilty at Brisbane District Court on Thursday to a string of fraud offences including state and commonwealth charges.

In a two-year period, Robertson, who grew up in Ipswich, would email people handling Wickham Securities' accounts requesting that money be transferred to pay clients or suppliers.

But the bank details he provided were for his personal accounts.

The amounts ranged from $9000 to $217,000 and the court heard he used this to pay off credit cards, tax debts and his mortgage.

On another occasion he gave a company his own bank account details instead of Wickham's for a $15,000 payment.

The court also heard Robertson - who used to work at a Toowoomba bank - changed statements to hide his fraud.

He was sent a PDF, converted it into a file he could edit and re-saved it as a PDF.

He changed the document so it appeared the balance was $1.6 million when it was actually $344,000. The court heard this statement was forwarded to accountants and was used in financial reports.

Wickham Securities went into administration in December 2012, when it owed $27 million to about 300 investors.

Judge Tony Moynihan said Robertson's offending made it appear to the trustee that was handling Wickham's management of funds that Wickham Securities was in a stronger financial position than it actually was.

Robertson's defence barrister Damien Atkinson told the court his client had worked in a bank for 25 years and had no criminal history.

He also said Robertson was deeply ashamed of what he had done and was deeply remorseful for the pain he had caused many people.

Judge Moynihan said the victims of Robertson's "fraudulent and deceitful" behaviour had suffered devastating consequences.

"You took the money when you knew the company was in financial trouble and it ultimately diminishes the sum available for distribution to creditors of the company," he said.

Robertson was sentenced to a total five years in jail, suspended after he served 20 months. - ARM NEWSDESK



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