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Supreme Court hears details of former Surf Life Saving NSW executive’s $1.8 million fraud

Supreme Court hears details of former Surf Life Saving NSW executive’s $1.8 million fraud
October 1, 2021

Details of a series of frauds undertaken by sporting executive Matthew Hanks while he was General Manager at Surf Life Saving NSW prior to his arrest in 2019 have been detailed in the NSW Supreme Court.

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

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, one of his activities saw him charge ‘phantom’ delivery fees on the charity’s vehicles with car dealers, and then putting the extra money into a fund of his own.

The fraud, which netted him more than $1,318,000 involved adding up to $2000 to the invoice of every car, when Surf Life Saving NSW (SLS NSW) was exempt from dealer delivery charges.

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

While there is no suggestion the car dealers did anything wrong, Baltussen said he got permission from the owners of both dealerships before entering into the unique arrangement with Hanks.

The Court also heard that SLS NSW Accounts Officer Carolyn Tremble said Hanks would rush through invoices following pay runs and “insist” she paid them immediately.

Tremble advised that this made it difficult to check the invoices.

Hanks also created a “cloud of confusion” in the finance department when he kept changing details of the $1.6 million fleet of cars and who was driving them, Trembly added.

Hanks also admitted defrauding the organisation of $400,000 through invoicing the SLS NSW printing work to his own company, See Hear Speak, but subcontracting it out to cheaper operators, pocketing the difference.

Volunteer Finance Director Philippa Butt told the Court that after she joined in 2013, she asked Hanks if there was a “related party” relationship with the printing company which needed to be declared and he had said there was not.

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

As reported by The Daily Telegraph, the Court was told it was part of a $2 million grant made to the charity in the 2006/07 financial year season from the NSW Department of Sport and Recreation, now Communities NSW.

Communities NSW Funding and Performance Manager, Amelia Jenkins told the Court that $300,000 of that $2 million was for the Port Macquarie Club with Hanks saying there were “dramas” and delays at the club.

The deceptions were uncovered in the middle of 2016 and Hanks admitted to the fraud when he resigned from the organisation.

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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7th June 2021 - NSW Surf Life Saving Clubs receive funding boost to support facility upgrades

29th March 2021 - Surf Life Saving NSW partners with Madimack to run CPR course

20th February 2021 - Prime Minister Morrison pledges extra funds for Surf Life Saving across Australia

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17th September 2020 - New operations centre opened for Surf Life Saving NSW

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27th July 2020 - Surf Life Saving Clubs across NSW to receive $4 million in development grant funding

21st August 2019 - Former Surf Life Saving NSW executive charged over $2.7 million fraud

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13th June 2018 - Former Cricket NSW staff member faces jail over cancer fraud

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26th July 2017 - Queensland Museum Chief Executive Suzanne Miller stands down after fraud charge

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