Jail for executive who ripped $4.5m from company
A high-ranking manager who defrauded a company out of $4.5 million over six years has been jailed for his "breathtaking dishonesty".
Grant Lachlan Whatmore, of Beenleigh, appeared in Brisbane District Court on Monday where he was sentenced to 10 years' jail after pleading guilty to fraud and uttering forged documents between 2011 and 2017.
The court heard that Whatmore was employed as regional operations manager for Advanced National Services Group in 2009.
The company, which has its headquarters in Yatala, provides commercial cleaning, network and environmental services Australia-wide.
Prosecutor Peter Richards told the court that Whatmore had not shown a "shred of remorse" for his elaborate scheme which involved skimming money from invoices he had inflated and falsifying other subcontractor forms.
Mr Richards said that over the six years there were more than 300 fraudulent transactions made by Whatmore who was running the fraud as well as a full-time job.
"(It took) a lot of effort and attention to detail including constantly intercepting invoices for the skimming part of the scheme (and) creating invoices that don't rouse too much attention," Mr Richards said.
The court heard that while the total fraud was worth $4.55 million, the Director of Public Prosecutions was only in a position to prove he had pocketed $1.2 million.
Mr Richards said Whatmore's offending came to light after the company's chief operating officer Ian Miller had a conversation with one of the subcontractors and began his own investigation which was the "start of a complete nightmare".
Whatmore had his employment terminated in February 2017 after the full extent of his fraud was uncovered and he was arrested by Queensland Police four months later.
Barrister Chris Minnery urged Ian Judge Dearden to consider a head sentence as low as six years because Whatmore's net gain was only $1.2 million and the criminal proceedings had significantly impacted the father of two.
"Before his employment was terminated a freezing order was put in place," Mr Minnery said.
"The effect of that was that my client or family could not do anything at all with their personal finances other than their living expenses."
Mr Minnery said Whatmore was still facing civil proceedings and there was so little left of his assets he would "walk out of prison bankrupt or close to".
Judge Dearden said Whatmore had failed in his role and his fraud had been a "blatant and appalling breach of trust".
"Ultimately of course it represents a breathtaking dishonesty over a substantial period of time and it has caused a significant level of distress financial, personal and otherwise," Judge Dearden said.
"You were regarded by (Mr Miller) as a friend as well as a colleague … and he was completely and utterly betrayed by what you had done."
Whatmore will be eligible for parole in March 2024, after serving three years behind bars.
Following Whatmore's sentence, Mr Miller said it was good to have a "line in the sand" after years of legal back-and-forth.
"It's been four years in the making," he said.
"It's been very difficult for the business and it took a few years to recover. But it's a direct reflection of the loyalty and the commitment from our staff and cleaners that we were able to recover from this relatively unscathed in the end."
Originally published as Jail for executive who ripped $4.5m from company