A former Securency executive who has agreed to testify against others in a major corruption prosecution was spared prison in his sentencing at the Supreme Court this morning.
Former Securency company secretary and chief financial officer David John Ellery, had pleaded guilty to one charge of false accounting, which Justice Elizabeth Hollingworth today said involved "a false and elaborate attempt to justify" the payment of commissions to promote the company's banknote supply business in Malaysia.
Justice Hollingworth said Ellery, 56, had "occupied positions of importance within a subsidiary of Australia's central bank" and had acted in the context of Securency's culture of "secrecy and denial of responsibility for wrongdoing".
Court orders prevent the publication of details about other ongoing matters.
"Conspiracies such as [this]...are by their very nature often difficult to prove". Justice Hollingworth said "much of what really occurred is either not documented or documents are not retained" and although Ellery had not been in the "inner sanctum", his oral evidence would be valuable.
Ellery's crime, committed between 28 June and 19 July 2006, carried a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment but Justice Hollingworth said, "you will not be taken into custody today".
She gave him six months imprisonment suspended for two years. If not for his early guilty plea, she said she would have sentenced him to one year imprisonment with a minimum nine-month non-parole period.
Ellery had concealed a commission payment of $79,502 to Malaysian "agent" Abdul Kayum Syed Ahmad and/or his company Aksavest, which Securency had verbally agreed to.
Justice Hollingworth said that Ellery had knowingly concealed the commission as reimbursement for marketing, accommodation and other expenses.
She said Ellery had "succumbed ... to the requests of senior employees" and forwarded a debit note requesting the payment be made. He had claimed that another employee had cited the supporting documents, even though he was aware "the request was false and no such marketing expenses had been incurred".
"It was done in order to disguise the true nature of the transaction from the board and the owners of Securency."
Justice Hollingworth said that later attempts to conceal the payment included a response to an inquiry by the Reserve Bank assistant governor Bob Rankin in June 2007, to which Ellery said Securency had never paid any commission. He maintained this position when queried later that year by Reserve Bank auditors.
She said Ellery was not being punished for his attempts to cover up the crime, but they were relevant as evidence of his earlier dishonesty.
"I assess your offending as being in the mid-range of false accounting offences," she told the court, saying general deterrence was an important consideration in the sentencing of white-collar crime but this offence had not been committed for Ellery's own benefit. She said he was, "after some initial hesitation now genuinely remorseful" and he had undertaken to assist law enforcement.