Former Boss Of Surf Life Saving NSW Jailed For 19 Months For Fraud - Stab Mag
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Former Boss Of Surf Life Saving NSW Jailed For 19 Months For Fraud

After pocketing $1.8M in charity donations.

elsewhere // Feb 20, 2022
Words by Ethan Davis
Reading Time: 2 minutes

“In hindsight, I can see it was a stupid thing to do.”

The former boss of Surf Life Saving NSW has been jailed for a minimum of 19 months after pleading guilty to 6 counts of fraud. Matthew Hanks says he now understands it was wrong to set up a company that made a tidy profit from the organization’s printing work while revealing to nobody he owned the business.

During his time as general manager of the iconic not-for-profit, Matthew Hanks pocketed $400,000 through his company See Hear Speak by subcontracting out SLS NSW printing work and taking a fee for “print broker” duties, the court heard.

At one time, colleagues asked him point-blank if his brother owned the company, Hanks said. He answered no, but did not divulge it was him. The 52-year-old has pleaded guilty to six charges of defrauding the charity of $1,839,845 across eight years. The stunning sum afforded Hanks two homes on Sydney’s northern beaches and a $490,000 yacht before his suspicious colleagues approached police in 2016 and it all went tits-up.

“In hindsight, I can see that I am a very silly goose.”

According to The West Australian:

Marks admitted undercutting Surf Life Saving Australia on logbooks the national organization sold to its state bodies, offering to print them for $28 when the national organization was flogging them for $35 apiece.

“Stoked. SLSA has been ripping us off,” one colleague wrote in an email about the new deal.

A substantial portion of the $1.8 million he scammed for SLS NSW arose from complicated schemes relating to the sale and purchase of the not-for-profit’s fleet of cars.

Hanks explained how he made a profit from secretly selling SLS NSW cars to himself at a wholesale price, then selling the vehicles to a private buyer at a higher price.

The verdict offered by Judge Pickering issued on February 18 found that the most serious offending, was Hanks’ deception over a government grant, which, although it involved less money than the other counts, was “just brazen”.

The grant in question was for Port Macquarie to build a new clubhouse, “an important community asset for a valued organisation”. Judge Pickering stated “the moral culpability of that particular offence is very high,” the judge said. He imposed a custodial sentence of three years and three months, with a non-parole period of one year and seven months.

For non-Australians, Surf Life Saving Clubs (SLSC) are a cornerstone of Australian beach culture. “Nippers” is a rite of passage for most kids in coastal communities who learn important critical skills in surf safety and rescue, as well as a heap of totally unimportant skills, like diving for sticks buried in sand, waving obscure hand-signals to people very far away, and terrorizing lineups on surf boats.

For adults, SLSC’s are mostly are community venues for Sunday grogs while their kids keep themselves busy shoving sand in one another’s mouths. On beaches where no professional lifeguards exist, SLSC’s occasionally wet their whistles and herd swimmers to ‘swim between the flags.’ 

SLSC mercenaries are frequent door-knockers who ask for donations for the essential services they provide in cute red and yellow caps.

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