A former NAB executive who fraudulently enjoyed $5.4 million worth of benefits unwittingly paid for by the major bank has been jailed for at least four years and nine months.
Rosemary Rogers became so used to “enjoying the benefits of her fraud” she was unable to stop over a four-year period, Acting Judge Paul Conlon told the NSW District Court on Wednesday.
The 45-year-old chief of staff for nine years at NAB “impressed not one but two” chief executives including Andrew Thorburn, leading Judge Conlon to conclude there was no question about her decision-making abilities.
Rogers received a significant discount for pleading guilty to numerous offences including 27 counts of being an agent corruptly receiving a benefit and for dishonestly obtaining a financial advance by deception, and for completely co-operating with authorities.
Between 2013 and 2017 Rogers would approve false or highly inflated invoices made out by Human Group director Helen Rosamond, who would then pay Rogers “kickbacks” for showing her events and human resources company special favour.
Human Group received more than $44 million from NAB between July 2013 and February 2018, and at one point received 97 per cent of its total revenue from the bank.
Rosamond denies her charges and is facing trial in July for her alleged role in the offending.
Financial rewards for Rogers included millions towards her “dream home” in Williamstown, a brand new BMW, a boat, a caravan, home renovations and cash to splash through pre-paid credit cards.
Overseas holidays with extended family included lavish trips to a privately owned Fijian island, Europe and America and featured private helicopters and luxury yacht cruises.
Bank records show accompanying guests reimbursed Rogers for several of the getaways but none of this money was passed on.
One fraudulent invoice related to “Project Eagle”, and the on-boarding of former NSW premier Mike Baird, which had been performed by an entirely separate company and at the cost of $60,000 – much less than the $2.2 million Rogers stated.
Despite her high salary, she was motivated by greed, personal gain, and self-gratification, the Crown argued.
Text messages between the two women referred to each other as “bestie” and “sister from another mother”, who were so close at one point Rosamond altered her will to include Rogers, facts from the case state.
Trusted with highly confidential information and the power to delegate up to $20 million, Rogers abused her position and threw the company she had worked 25 years with into disrepute, Judge Conlon said.
“I find it absolutely staggering that those frauds were not detected by some appropriate system of internal auditing,” he said.
The “utterly reckless” amounts claimed were uncovered after an anonymous whistleblower sent a letter to the NAB board saying “Rose” had been receiving gifts and a one-million-dollar cheque.
After panicked communication between the pair including a phone call where Rogers tells Rosamod “what the f*** are we going to do?” Rogers handed herself in to authorities. She has since shown remorse and profound guilt for her conduct, the court found.
Her defence argued grandiose expectations such as being on-call 24/7 in her high-pressured job meant she felt guilty for neglecting her family and sought to make amends through expensive holidays and gifts.
In a statement following the verdict NAB chief legal counsel Sharon Cook thanked the whistleblower for coming forward and said the bank had zero tolerance for criminal activity.
“Since becoming aware of the issue, we have made changes to strengthen controls in our organisation, including changing delegations and introducing additional checks on expenses,” she said.
Rogers, who has been sentenced to a maximum prison term of eight years, has so far repaid more than $4 million.