News Crime Bank took eight years to report $1.4 million fraud

Bank took eight years to report $1.4 million fraud

commonwealth bank fraud
The Commonwealth Bank waited more than eight years to report a $1.4 million fraud to police. Photo: AAP
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A decade after a sacked Victorian bank worker admitted defrauding more than $1.4 million from his employer, he’s about to face justice.

But the significant delay – caused by the Commonwealth Bank waiting more than eight years to report his fraud to police – might mean George Vrettakos escapes jail time.

The Commonwealth Bank knew about his fraud in 2010 and sacked him, before managing to claw back nearly half of what he stole, including by selling his home.

But charges weren’t laid until the media reported on his scam and it became subject to a royal commission inquiry.

Mr Vrettakos’s illegal activities began in August 2008 when he took out a $450,000 line of credit in a false name using a Doncaster flat as the security.

He then used the credit to purchase the flat as a home for his new wife.

In July 2019 he used the same method to take out a $1.5 million line of credit in a false name, using a stranger’s property in Templestowe as the security.

He used that credit to cover the loans of customers where the loans hadn’t yet been fulfilled.

Prosecutor Jamie Singh described that account as “robbing Peter to pay Paul”, noting Mr Vrettakos himself didn’t personally benefit from that line of credit.

But he did benefit from the first account and from a third line of credit, a $1.8 million credit line taken out in August 2009 using a third false name and a property on Beach Road, Sandringham as the security.

He pleaded guilty to dishonestly obtaining $3.75 million in financial advantage. While he had access to that much, he didn’t take the full amount.

The fraud was uncovered in early 2010 when a solicitor noticed an error with a property title.

Mr Vrettakos admitted his wrongdoing in extensive interviews and was fired.

He claimed he had been under pressure to fulfil loans, took out the lines of credit out of desperation and had been trying to make it right.

Mr Vrettakos said he had wanted to buy a house and thought he was going to pay the money back and nobody would know.

He also spent money to pay off a loan for a business deal that went wrong and paying for “lunches, wine, cocaine and girls”, County Court Judge Gavan Meredith heard in a pre-sentence hearing on Friday.

The Commonwealth Bank launched civil proceedings in 2010 and clawed back more than $695,000.

Mr Vrettakos’ fraud was not reported to police until 2018 and he was not charged until 2019 – after The Age reported on the fraud including his admissions.

His barrister Phil Dunn QC said had he been charged with a $1.3 million fraud in 2010 he would have gone to jail, but Mr Vrettakos had still paid a price.

He wants Mr Vrettakos to receive a fully suspended sentence, describing him as remorseful and rehabilitated.

But prosecutors say he should be forced to serve at least some of the eventual punishment.

Judge Meredith will hand down his sentence next week.

-AAP