Commonwealth bank fraudster gets off lightly

Contributed by Ben Wilson

This story just about says it all. A financial planner at the Commonwealth Bank forges signatures and fleeces clients of more than $3 million, is found guilty in court and fined $3,000.

It shows the legal system in Australia does not really consider Australians being robbed through the financial system as a serious crime. It should be and there must be a major change to bring an end to this.

Of course, one cannot automatically equate the performance of one person to a whole industry. Nor do we know about the individual circumstances that led to the court decision. But there is enough here, to suggest something smells around here. This is only one of a string of cases concerning the Commonwealth Bank.

It would be wrong to suggest that this one bank stands out in this respect. Allegations of misconduct affect all the banks, and this extends through the whole finance industry and have  have fuelled demand for a proper inquiry. This is still waiting to happen and Turnbull’s pretend inquiry into finance will not cut it.

In this case, Queensland based Ricky Gillespie, pleaded guilty to forgery involving 33 documents and 57 clients. The fraud had been uncovered during an investigation by the Australian Securities and Investments Commission into allegations about the bank’s operations.  The Gillespie case is only small part of the big picture and attention should not be taken away from this by one case.

Meanwhile, the Commonwealth Bank has finally provided the victims with some compensation after a long drawn out battle. They got $2.2 million of what had been taken. In other words, the banks still profited from the fraud and the law as it stands, suggests there is nothing wrong with this.

Commenting on the case, whistleblower Jeff Morris said that said he had represented a couple who were victims of Gillespie, who had ultimately received $235,000 in compensation from the bank after a drawn-out bid to get their money back.

“Bearing in mind that he was in a fiduciary position when he forged those signatures, and the years of misery that ensued for so many people getting their money back, the penalty seems quite paltry,” he added.

 

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