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Qld woman jailed for $1.7m fraud

AAP logoAAP 4/11/2016

A Gold Coast woman "frittered away" over one and a half million dollars of her employer's money on cars, holidays and tattoos.

Amanda Kate Smith, 37, was sentenced to nine years' imprisonment at Southport District Court on Friday after pleading guilty to one count of fraud as an employee.

The court heard Smith siphoned $1.74 million destined for the Australian Taxation Office into her own bank accounts over a seven-year period from May 2008 to May 2015.

Working as a payroll officer for not-for-profit employment agency Smart Employment Solutions, Smith changed bank details on 127 separate occasions across that period.

Crown prosecutor Michael Mitchell told the court the fraud was committed out of "greed, not need" and Smith had spent the money on items such as family holidays, cars, jewellery and tattoos.

"This was about funding a lifestyle for her family," Mr Mitchell said.

About $300,000 of the funds had been accounted for, including three "special interest military vehicles" Smith had bought her husband, but Mr Mitchell said $1.4 million was outstanding.

Smith's fraud had forced Smart Employment Solutions to downsize and sell assets to keep trading in 2014.

Despite losing her full-time job in the downsizing before being re-hired on a short-term contract, Smith continued her fraud for another 12 months, the court heard.

Mr Mitchell said the total out-of-pocket cost to Smith's employer would be $3.4 million because the ATO had pursued the outstanding payments Smith had kept for herself.

"Your conduct has caused enormous damage to that company," Judge Helen Bowskill said.

"It may result in the company going into liquidation."

Judge Bowskill also expressed scepticism that Smith had no knowledge of what had happened to the remainder of what she described as an "enormous" sum of money.

"The amounts just don't add up," Judge Bowskill said.

"It's incomprehensible this level of money has been frittered away in the way it has.

"You've made no offer to repay any of the money the company has lost."

Judge Bowskill didn't impose an order for Smith to repay the money on the grounds there was no prospect of it being complied with.

The mother of one will be eligible for parole in October 2019.

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