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Australia Accountant Scott Fleay jailed for stealing more than $4.6 million from WA chicken farmers

06:15  04 december  2020
06:15  04 december  2020 Source:   abc.net.au

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A Perth accountant is found guilty of stealing millions from a wealthy couple to subsidise his upmarket lifestyle including the purchase of two Scott Francis Fleay , 52, had been on trial for the past week accused of channelling more than $ 4 million from the bank accounts of Ghassan, known

A Perth accountant stole more than $ 4 million from an immigrant couple and used it to "subsidise his own lifestyle", including the Scott Francis Fleay is on trial accused of taking the money from Ghassan "Gus" Jabado and his late wife Maria, after the 2006 sale for million of the poultry farm

a man wearing a suit and tie: Accountant Scott Fleay arrived at court for the sentencing flanked by his wife Simone. (ABC News: Evelyn Manfield) © Provided by ABC NEWS Accountant Scott Fleay arrived at court for the sentencing flanked by his wife Simone. (ABC News: Evelyn Manfield)

An accountant and former councillor for one of Perth's most exclusive suburbs has been sentenced to six years in jail for stealing more than $4.6 million from a wealthy chicken famer who had entrusted him to look after his financial affairs.

Scott Francis Fleay, 53, was found guilty by a District Court jury of channelling more than $4.6 million from the bank accounts of Ghassan Jabado, known as Gus, and his wife Maria to subsidise his upmarket lifestyle.

That included the purchase of multi-million dollar properties in the wealthy Perth suburbs of Cottesloe and Peppermint Grove, where Fleay was a shire councillor for nine years.

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He became the Jabados' accountant after they sold their Forrestdale chicken farm for $28 million in 2006.

They established the farm after coming to Australia as immigrants in 1969, but after the sale Mrs Jabado fell ill, and Fleay was given an enduring power of attorney over their affairs — which gave him access to their bank accounts.

Over three years, he then transferred funds into accounts he controlled.

The District Court was told Fleay had repaid all the stolen money well before any charges were laid, plus an extra million dollars that he had mistakenly transferred to Mr Jabado after his wife's death in 2010.

The money was meant to go to Mrs Jabado's estate but instead ended up with Mr Jabado, who then realised what Fleay was doing.

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Accountant claimed case was vendetta

At his trial, Fleay maintained the funds he received from the Jabados were gifts, loans and payments for work he had done for them.

He also claimed the whole court case was a vendetta by Mr Jabado, because he was angry Fleay had gone behind his back and helped his wife, before her death, give money to her family, whom Mr Jabado hated.

Fleay said after the allegations surfaced, Mr Jabado became threatening and frightening to his family, demanding that Fleay visit him and write confession notes, whilst repeatedly reminding him he had a gun.

Anonymous packages detailing the allegations were also sent to Fleay's new employers, Peppermint Grove Shire Council and his wife's workplace.

Victim's 'nightmare' after entrusting finances

Mr Jabado attended Fleay's sentencing hearing and outside the court he denied responsibility for the packages, describing the case as "a nightmare".

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He also dismissed the description of him by Fleay's lawyer as a "loud, dominating and intimidating character".

"The big judge upstairs, he knows who I am, I don't have to prove myself to anybody," Mr Jabado told reporters.

"People can say what they like about me, it don't bother me at all, because I'm a man.

"I come here in 1969, I achieve what I've achieved. I've not done for anybody other than work hard and keep going."

Mr Jabado said he had relied on Fleay to look after his finances "because of my difficulty, especially to read and write numbers".

"I'm a poultry farmer and before [I was] a poultry farmer, I was a heavy machine operator, so I don't know nothing about statements and all this nonsense," he said.

Fleay 'utterly abused' trust: judge

In her sentencing remarks, Judge Mara Barone said Fleay had "utterly abused" the trust of the Jabados.

Judge Barone said although Fleay had repaid more than $1 million in excess of the stolen funds, she was not convinced he paid it out of remorse — but rather to avoid getting caught.

She said $60,000 of the funds Fleay stole was intended for charity and the decision to divert the funds showed Fleay's "callousness" in prioritising his desires.

The money Fleay stole enabled him to live an expensive life he would have otherwise not been able to afford, Judge Barone added.

She noted the "sense of shame" the trial and subsequent conviction had caused for Fleay's wife and two daughters, but said that was entirely at his hands.

"It is your fault if there is an impact on them," Judge Barone said.

She noted Fleay did not accept he was guilty of the stealing offences, but said he was unlikely to reoffend.

As Fleay was escorted from the courtroom, he mouthed to his wife that he loved her.

He will be eligible for parole after four years.

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This is interesting!