A$1.5 billion stolen, mostly to feed a penchant for online gambling
Internet gambler Dinesh Enoka Abeysuriya (29), described by his lawyer as a "lonely and depressed" Sri Lankan on an Australian work visa, has pleaded guilty to embezzling a Queensland charity out of A$1.5 million.
The Brisbane Times reports that Abeysuriya was a finance clerk working for the Blue Care aged care health charity when the offences occurred. Between March 2009 and April 2010 he is alleged to have fraudulently channelled the money to his own accounts, disguised as payments to Blue Care creditors.
Evidence was given to the Brisbane District Court that he spent most of the cash on Centrebet, a sports gambling website, which colleagues noticed he accessed at work.
Abeysuriya was exposed when a bank clerk noted the large amounts of money flowing into his bank account, and he absconded back to Sri Lanka when his crimes were discovered. However he subsequently returned to Australia, surrendering himself to the authorities and pleading guilty to two counts of aggravated fraud.
Some 26 fraudulent transactions went undetected until Abeysuriya was approached and admitted his activity. About A$600,000 was recovered, leaving a shortfall of about A$900,000. Blue Care can recover the shortfall as they were insured against fraud, and the organisation had since tightened up procedures within the finance team, the court was assured.
The second charge of fraud related to Abeysuriya prejudicing the Commonwealth Bank by overdrawing his credit card by A$223,409. The card was used to wager a total of A$1.88 million through the accused's Centrebet account.
State prosecutors have asked the court for a sentence of 10 years imprisonment, suspended after three years have been served.
Abeysuriya's legal representative pleaded that his client had been diagnosed as a pathological gambler and although he had fled Australia, he had returned voluntarily. He suggested that a sentence of five years suspended after two years have been served would be more appropriate.
Judge Kerry O'Brien reserved his decision in case, which has been adjourned for sentence next week, saying it was unclear whether Abeysuriya would be deported upon his release from jail.