A high-ranking bank employee who was lavished with millions of dollars worth of extravagant gifts as part of a kickback scheme in which she defrauded the National Australia Bank has been jailed for at least four years and nine months.
Rosemary Rogers, 45, was on Wednesday led away by sheriffs inside Sydney’s Downing Centre District Court after she was convicted of a string of offences over the long-running scheme.
The former chief-of-the staff to the NAB CEO pleaded to 64 charges including corruptly receiving a benefit and obtaining a financial gain by deception
The Melbourne woman did not speak or react as Judge Paul Conlon sentenced her to eight years in prison with a non-parole period of four years and nine months, meaning she will be eligible to be released in October 2025.
Rogers received $5.5 million in kickbacks from Helen Rosamond, who she referred to in texts as her “bestie” and “sister from another mother”.
Ms Rosamond, the CEO of events management company Human Group, has pleaded not guilty and will face trial later this year.
As part of the nearly five-year scheme, Rogers would use her position as chief of staff to then NAB CEO Andrew Thornton to approve inflated invoices submitted by Ms Rosamond and her company.
The court heard there was little detail in the invoices, however Rogers would approve them and in return she would receive gifts from Rosamond including cash, a car, boat and overseas holidays.
During this period, they talked about their children and relationships, met for dinner at high-end restaurants, attended sporting events and races together, and referred to each other as part of an extended family.
The court heard she paid the invoices knowing they were false and exceeded legitimate expenses.
“I find it staggering that those frauds were not detected by some internal audit by the National Australia Bank,” Judge Conlon said.
“All that was required for these frauds to have been perpetrated on the bank was for the Human Group to submit an invoice for very substantial sums devoid of details in respect to work undertaken and sent off and merely approved.”
Judge Conlon described it as a “sophisticated and long-term scheme” to defraud the NAB and a “demonstrative” abuse of her trust.
From July 2013 until February 2018, the Human Group received $44 million in revenue from the NAB and from 2015 the bank was its only client.
Rogers had been an employee with the NAB since 1995 and was the chief of staff to the CEO from January 2009 until she resigned in December 2017 after the scheme was uncovered.
In her role, she had the personal authority to approve invoices of up to $20 million and Judge Conlon described her as being motivated by “greed and personal gain”.
I find it staggering that those frauds were not detected by some internal audit by the National Australia Bank.
The court heard that Ms Rosamond bought Rogers holidays to Europe and Fiji, a luxury BMW worth $172,000.
She was also given $1.85 million to buy a $3.8 million trophy home in Melbourne’s Williamstown.
The court heard that Rogers approved a $2.2 million invoice which purported to be for costs related to the recruitment of former NSW Premier Mike Baird.
“The Human Group was not involved in the onboarding of Mr Baird and the offender knew that,” Judge Conlon said.
The scheme came toppling down in December 2017 when an anonymous whistleblower tipped off the NAB board.
After initially denying she had done anything wrong to the bank’s investigators, she then made full admissions and agreed to step down.
Despite this, she still received an $186,000 payout as well as a final salary payment of $615,000 which included bonuses.
The court heard that she was initially motivated to defraud the company because the 24/7 nature of the role had placed a strain on her family and she wanted to give something back to them.
In a letter to the court said that she was “truly sorry” for the damage she had done to the company which had been “part of my life for 25 years which had been a second home and family”.