You Can Bank On It
Saturday, September 1, 2007 at 10:22PM
Malcolm Lambe

.gifAustralian real estate agent Victor Ollis was in desperate financial straits and on the verge of bankruptcy when millions of dollars began turning up in his Westpac business account.

But he decided to do the right thing and report it to the bank, didn't he. Well no he didn't. He thought You bloody beauty and over the next seven months went on an $11 Million spending spree that included a loan of $4.8 Million to his defacto wife's business, a $345,000 deposit on a portable concrete plant, a grader, a forklift, a crane and, count them, 23 houses.

When the bank finally woke up to the error in January last year and said Mate...can we have our money back? Mr Ollis said they could whistle Dixie. Or rather, Waltzing Matilda. He told the bank he was suffering from gout and had breathing difficulties saying "I've only got two years to live and you won't see anything".

So Westpac took him and his de facto partner to the NSW Supreme Court. The couple's defence throughout the hearing was they didn't think they had committed fraud as it was the bank's fault.

Ollis had an automatic transfer facility with the bank that topped up his business account using funds from his personal account. The transfers should have stopped after his personal account was overdrawn in February 2004 but a bank error saw that the transfers continue.

"I haven't fraudulently misused the bank in any way," Ollis pleaded. "I never deviated or varied in any way, shape or form from normal banking policy and everything I did was standard."

The court heard that Ollis initially wrote a cheque for $40,000 and when that was honoured, away he went on his spending spree, writing cheques for up to half-a-million dollars at a time while not depositing any money into either of his accounts.

Man I want a bank account like that!

Throughout the hearing Mr Ollis continued to deny any suggestion of fraud.

But the judge ruled otherwise.

"His conduct was no more and no less than fraudulent," Justice Einstein said.

"There was an active, knowing and calculated determination to deliberately and shamelessly take advantage of the bank's mistake.

"This was far removed from a one-off banking error, this was fraud in these circumstances."

"In the eyes of the law it was the conduct of a thief."

This week the court ordered Ollis and his de facto to repay Westpac Bank $14,692,968.03 - the defrauded cash plus interest.

Amazing eh? Did he think the goose would go on laying forever?

Article originally appeared on flotsam & jetsam from the wordwide web (http://www.welcometowallyworld.com/).
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