Former Sydney Ferries CEO Geoffrey Smith will spend at least 18 months behind bars after pleading guilty to fraud when he used his work credit card to rack up nearly $300,000 in personal expenses, including luxury cars, holidays, jewellery and private school fees.
Smith, a former deputy chief of the Royal Australian Navy with the rank of rear admiral following a 36-year career, was sentenced to three years and four months, with an 18-month non-parole period.
But he escaped a harsher sentence from District Court justice Michael Finnane because, while Smith defrauded the state-owned corporation in two periods, he paid back nearly all of the $128,000 he took between 2006 and 2008, and was only prosecuted for subsequent fraud worth more than $110,000 between May 2008 and February 2009.
Smith, 64, retired from the Navy in 2002 and was hired in 2006 to turn the struggling public transport company around. He was fired in 2009 after an ICAC investigation revealed the extent of his fraud at Sydney Ferries.
In his defence, Smith told the court that he was trying to provide a comfortable and stable life for his ill wife after a lifetime of moving around in the Navy. But a $2 million home on Sydney’s north shore, with a $1.5 million mortgage, meant he was already in a poor financial state when he took the $20,000-a-month job.
Smith was declared bankrupt in 2010.
Pleading guilty in June, he told the court he was trying to meet his wife’s expectations and intended to repay all the money.
In passing sentence, Justice Finnane said it was obvious she was not aware of the fraud until the family home was sold in 2009, describing Smith’s downfall as a “tragedy.
The ABC has the details here.
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