‘Expect the worst’: Ex-Surf Life Saving boss fronts court over $1.8M fraud

Jan 28, 2022
Hanks allegedly funded a millionaire's lifestyle by defrauding the club's 76,000 members to buy yachts and two mansions. Source: Getty Images.

The New South Wales District Court has warned the former general manager of Surf Life Saving (SLS) New South Wales to “expect the worst” when sentenced, after he stole almost $2 million from the charity.

Matthew Hanks allegedly funded a millionaire’s lifestyle by defrauding the club’s 76,000 members to buy yachts and two mansions. Hanks admitting he scammed a total of $1,839,845 from SLS NSW through inflating invoices when purchasing cars for the organisation, using false invoices, and invoicing Surf Life Saving printing work to his own company, before subcontracting the work for a cheaper fee and keeping the difference

SLS NSW board member Anthony Waller told the court the organisation had been brought into “disrepute” by Hanks’ actions, in comments published by news.com.au.

“His actions brought the entire staff cohort into disrepute with the volunteer membership, the board and even within the staffing ranks,” he said. “The culture of the workforce changed immediately from one of collegiality, camaraderie and trust to one of distrust and innuendo.

“There has been significant business disruption in redirection of key staff away from their positional functions of supporting the volunteers, to that of attempting to recover documents and evidence required to unravel the complex fraud, many key projects that were under way to be delivered for the volunteer membership were required to be cancelled or postponed to redirect staff, energy and focus on supporting the investigation.”

During the January 27 hearing, Judge John Pickering warned Hanks to prepare for a lengthy jail sentence. “He is clearly at risk of receiving a jail sentence. He should expect the worst when he comes to court,” he said.

When asked to give evidence before the court, Hanks displayed remorse for his actions. “I regret so much of what happened,” he said. “I know I can’t go back and change it and it’s something you can’t make up. Simply being remorseful doesn’t seem enough.”

Hanks will be sentenced in a few weeks’ time, on February 18.

What sort of sentencing do you think Hanks deserves?

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