Filipino Bookkeeper Charged With Stealing A$3.5 Million From Luxury Cruise Company
A 53-year-old Filipino woman working as a bookkeeper was charged after she was accused of stealing A$3.5 million (P127.2 million) from Silversea Cruises in an allegedly “deliberate and calculated fraud” conducted over four years in the company’s Sydney office.
According to Sydney Morning Herald there were two separate legal cases against Mary Ann Abellanoza: a criminal case before the Downing Center Local Court and a civil case filed by the cruise company before the New South Wales Supreme Court.
NSW Supreme Court heard that Abellanoza, while she was branch accounting supervisor, transferred $3.5 million into seven bank accounts under her control and used a downloadable generator to create fake invoices.
“Ms. Abellanoza fell under suspicion in February 2018, when she told a senior executive she had fallen victim to an online scam and offered to reimburse the company,” Sydney Morning Herald said.
It added: “An investigation by a forensic accountant uncovered the alleged discrepancies, an expert telling the court that the size and frequency of the transactions was ‘indicative of a deliberate and calculated fraud.’”
The report also said that Abellanoza received a free voyage each year on of the cruise company’s vessels as part of her employment package.
While the court said that Silversea could pursue whatever means appropriate to recover from Abellanoza the money allegedly stolen, it ruled the company could only recover A$1,829 from Abellanoza’s husband, Perven. He allegedly received A$811,565.
“Justice [John] Sackar accepted Mr. Abellanoza’s version of events: that he believed his wife’s newfound wealth was ‘pure luck’ after she developed a seven-days-a-week gambling habit,” Sydney Morning Herald said.
It added: “Mr. Abellanoza, who worked in refrigeration, is not facing any criminal charges. He told the court his wife had full control of the household finances, he was ‘hopeless with technology’ and did ‘not know how to use an ATM.’ He was never allowed to gamble beside his wife because that was ‘bad luck.’”
Silversea is appealing the decision, saying that Perven had “wilfully shut his eyes to the obvious” or “recklessly failed to make such inquiries as an honest and reasonable person.”