NRL Club CEO fraud charges dismissed because Club's board wasn't deceived by sham invoices
Friday, 14 July 2017
A lawyer friend wrote to me overnight about the former Parramatta Eels CEO Scott Seward who yesterday walked free from court after a charge of "dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception" was dismissed.
My lawyer friend said, "This case is analogous to Ralph Blewitt's. In Seward's case he was charged over his involvement in false invoicing designed to cover up cash payments from the club channeled to players. There was no doubt the invoices were false and no doubt about Seward's involvement, he admitted to what he'd done. The Magistrate found that many of the Board members knew about the sham arrangements and even though the invoices were clearly false, there was no fraud because they were not deceived."
"Blewitt's charges are similar. For the prosecution to succeed it must prove that Thiess was actually deceived by the false invoices. The prosecution must prove the deception was effective, that is that Thiess was hoodwinked into believing the workplace reform services described in the false invoices actually took place and that it paid the invoices because of the deception. If it's shown Thiess wasn't deceived, that it knew what was going on there's no fraud and Blewitt walks".
That's not to say there was no crime in the AWU WRA Inc scandal. As people close to the matter commented at the time, the sham arrangements appear to be contrived so as to conceal Thiess's payment of secret commissions to Wilson et al.
Here's the Daily Telegraph
Former Eels CEO Scott Seward escapes conviction over salary cap scandal
FORMER Parramatta Eels CEO Scott Seward has walked away from court without a conviction for his involvement in the salary cap scandal with Deputy Chief Magistrate Chris O’Brien pointing the finger at the Club’s former Board members for creating the mess.
Mr O’Brien said Seward was pressured to “fix up a diabolical mess he had inherited from others” when he took on the role as CEO and was pressured by players and their managers to make third-party payments outside the salary cap .
He said “at least some” of the former Board members “connived” in making the promises of third party payments and “pressured” Seward to resolve the, “circumstances they created.”
Mr O’Brien recorded no conviction and dismissed a charge of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception on condition he enter a two-year good behaviour bond.
Mr O’Brien took no action on a second charge of publish false and misleading material to obtain financial advantage.
Seward, with the alleged assistance of Eels football and logistics team manager, Jason Irvine, got businesses associated with the club to provide false invoices for services never completed and the payments were then funnelled to players.
He said “at least some” of the former Board members “connived” in making the promises of third party payments and “pressured” Seward to resolve the, “circumstances they created.”“The entire matter would not have come to light without the full and frank disclosure made by the offender to police.”
He said the case was “unusual” because at least some members of the Board - who are usually the victims in these cases - knew and encouraged the cheating.
“Their willingness to allow the commission of the offences places these victim in a different category to the victims of other offences of this type.”