A mother of two from Sydney withdrew 1.8 million dollars into a single ATM in the ambit of a "sophisticated" system of fraud and money laundering that saw her siphon over 3 million dollars out of the coffers of the her luxury employer.
He spent some of his "bad money" in imaginative holidays abroad, although he was already entitled to a free annual cruise because of his work.
Mary Ann Abellanoza, 53, sobbed on the dock and hugged her young family members at the Sydney Downing Center district court today while she was sent down for eight years with a five-year unqualified period.
She was convicted of seven charges of dishonestly gaining a financial advantage with deception and three for deliberately treating the proceeds of the crime.
In total, Abellanoza, who was an accountant at the Silversea cruise line, drew $ 3,775,705 from the company between 2013 and 2018.
But Judge Jane Culver said that his theft, "had the taste of a Ponzi scheme", and probably would eventually collapse.
Judge Culver rejected his mother's claims, from Plumpton in western Sydney, that he needed money to fuel his gambling addiction, noting that he had opened a gambling account only when the fraud.
"This was not a temporary reversal in the cash situation," the judge said. "For each crime, the perpetrator had the opportunity to stop what he was doing, but he persisted in his criminal conduct."
He said he found Abellanoza's claims that he wanted to repay the millions of "doubters" since there was still a mystery where they were $ 2.6 million.
HOW MANY MILLIONS HAVE BEEN BLOWN
Abellanoza started working at the Sydney office of the Silversea cruises, the luxury arm of the global cruise line from Royal Caribbean, in September 2009. Her job came with the enviable advantage of an annual cruise free on one of the company's luxurious ships that included a "professional" butler service, gourmet cuisine and free-flow wine.
His eventual role as branch supervisor, paid $ 88,000 a year and gave Abellanoza control of the billing system of the company in which he handled payments to suppliers.
For five years, Abellanoza made changes to the system by diverting money to suppliers into their accounts or by creating fake salesmen who, again, channeled the money from Silversea to itself.
It made approximately 236 payments to itself in seven separate bank accounts at three banks. It was an undertaking that the judge stated that he took "considerable planning and refinement".
"He had the opportunity to significantly change the (payment) system and manipulate it for his own purposes. It was a serious breach of trust, "said judge Culver.
According to the facts agreed on the case seen by news.com.au, to hide the fraud Abellanoza would have withheld payments from other sellers. He would then use those funds to pay the suppliers whose money he had diverted to his accounts so as not to raise red flags from sellers who wondered where their money was.
"I'm not saying it was equivalent to a Ponzi scheme, but it had that flavor of continuing the offense to cover the tracks in relation to previous crimes," the judge said.
The money went into accounts with major banks including one with NAB that saw $ 1.3 million in deposits over the life of the rort.
$ 1.8 million from an ATM
Most of the money was taken from ATMs at an RSL group in western Sydney.
Only in Rooty Hill RSL, Abellanoza withdrew $ 1,865,000 from an ATM during the period of the infringement. $ 1.3 million was taken from an ATM at Dooley's Catholic Club.
"The money since then put into the gaming machines by her and her husband and then withdrawn and entered into her bank account," said Judge Culver.
In a previous hearing, a judge accepted the claim of Abellanoza's husband, Perven, that he was unaware of his wife's criminal activity and took care of the family budget. He is not facing any charges.
During the period of the scam, he bet $ 3.2 million of money from Silversea. After losing $ 398,000 it remained with $ 2,784,000.
Abellanoza claimed to have a gambling addiction and that he sometimes spent 10 hours a day at casinos without knowing how many thousands he was pushing through the machines.
But he did not wash himself with the judge.
"The offender appeared to have created a gambling account at the time of the criminal activity," he said.
"These figures do not suggest that this money was used in the bottomless pit of gambling. He was clearly putting money through gaming machines and then getting a check from the hotels or RSLs to launder the bad money.
"The only opinion that can be rationally taken on these circumstances was that the gamble was the main vehicle for money laundering."
Abellanoza dressed in black in court and bit his lower lip while the judge went through the long sentence.
In a letter to the court, Abellanoza stated that he had "a sincere and sincere remorse" for the fraud and wanted to repay Silversea even if it took the rest of his life.
However, Judge Culver wondered if this was indeed the case. He cashed $ 120,000 in the Philippines, from where he emigrated more than two decades ago. He also spent some on holiday in Australia and Hawaii, Las Vegas, Fiji and Taiwan. But where was the rest of the money or what was spent was a mystery.
"I have a hard time accepting his genuineness in his desire to return," said Judge Culver
"The fact that he wanted to make a compensation and spend all his life doing it is doubtful when there remains a significant unidentified amount of money that comes from his crime."
Abellanoza was arrested on 28 September 2018 at the Surry Hills police station in central Sydney.
In his sentence the judge stated that Abellanoza's offense was above the average of gravity, but below the most serious.
"There is no doubt that fraud can have a devastating financial impact for companies, business customers and financial institutions for a long time."
The sentence to eight years, with a period of unconditional for five years, could mean that the next Abellanoza will see freedom on November 4, 2024.
After learning that he was going to prison, Abellanoza began to sob and his head sank into the dock. After embracing her family, she was taken away.
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