Advertisement

Former Surf Life Saving NSW Boss Arrested Over Alleged $2.7 Million Fraud

Former Surf Life Saving NSW general manager Matthew Hanks has been arrested over allegedly ripping off the iconic charity organisation to the tune of $2.7 million.

The 50-year-old handed himself in at Wollongong police station following on Wednesday a three year-long investigation into Hank’s dodgy practices alleged to have occurred from 2006 to July 2016.

Detectives from the financial crimes squad say it was a staff member discovering some dubious invoices who first raised suspicions.

“It’s been a lengthy, laborious and complex investigation into the dealings of the individual that has been charged,” Detective Acting Superintendent Richard Puffett said.

Photo: Getty

Police will allege Hanks ran two main scams.

The first was to create invoices made out to a false printing company he set up while getting the actual work done much cheaper at legitimate companies and then pocketing the difference.

The other involved fleet vehicles, whereby Hanks would allegedly sell off SLSNSW cars for a much higher value than he would declare to the organisation, again depositing the difference into his own bank accounts, or in some cases simply keeping the cash.

Investigators say the funds were mainly spent on assets and a lifestyle which included a catamaran valued at close to $500k.

Investigators say the fraud was "quite brazen". Photo: 10 News First.

“We believe the fraud was complex, sustained and quite brazen," police said.

The big question is: how does someone get away with this for 10 years?

“These people hold a position of trust, obviously, and sometimes they exploit that. They are confident, they are brazen and they are good at what they do," Puffett said.

Surf Life Saving NSW said they are pleased with the arrest.

“SLSNSW welcomes the charges laid today against the former senior manager, after cooperating with the NSW Police for the last three years with their investigations," it said in a statement.

SLSNSW executive officer Steven Pierce said the organisation welcomes the charges. Photo: 10 News First.

“Over the course of the investigation SLSNSW has kept members and stakeholders fully informed and we thank our members, partners and the community for their ongoing support during this difficult period.”

In an email to SLSNSW members, the organisation said it knew "members share our anger, disappointment and frustration" about the matter.

Hanks is facing more than 50 charges and police believe he acted alone.

"We would hope it acts as a deterrent to these people in trusted positions to not abuse the trust that they hold," police said.

“And that there are governance and regulation around these positions to prevent future defrauding of such iconic organisations.”

The East Corrimal man has been granted strict conditional bail to appear at Wollongong Local Court on Tuesday 1 October 2019.

Contact the author: sthart@networkten.com.au