A former bank manager spun a web of lies to cover her fraudulent sale of a luxury BMW that was under a finance plan, even forging part of a bank statement to deceive police.
Pauline Mary Smith, 55, was jailed at Brisbane District Court on Thursday for what Judge John Coker called “serious offending” that “plays at the very nature of our society”.
The court was told even years after the sale, the victims still had an unresolved civil suit with Toyota relating to the car and had suffered emotional and financial setbacks.
Smith had pleaded guilty earlier this year to fraud to the value of $30,000 or more and attempting to pervert the course of justice.
Crown prosecutor Amy Stannard said Smith sold the car, a BMW X5 Luxury SUV, to the complainants for $46,000 in April 2017.
The court was told she originally purchased the car under a novated lease with Toyota Finance, worth more than $95,000, while working for BGW Group as a shared services manager in June 2013.
“In March 2015 the defendant ceased her employment and personally took over the balance of the novated lease,” Ms Stannard said.
“She did not tell the complainants the car was subject of the lease … (and) did not contact Toyota Finance to seek permission to sell the car.”
More than $49,000 was outstanding on the lease when the car was sold – a fact not disclosed to the complainants.
Ms Stannard said Smith later told the complainants the car was under finance and agreed to transfer ownership.
Months later, both complainants were advised by Toyota the car was liable to repossession as the lease had defaulted.
“They contacted the defendant, who repeatedly lied to them and said she had paid the lease out,” Ms Stannard said.
Ms Stannard said Smith lied to police when interviewed in January 2018, presenting a bank statement fraudulently displaying she had paid out the lease with a cheque.
She said Smith spent the $46,000 received for the car on personal expenses that included bills, credit card payments, school fees and gym and golf club memberships but made no attempts to pay off the remaining money to Toyota.
“They (the complainants) have had to fund their own civil suit with Toyota that is still not resolved,” Ms Stannard said.
“They had repossession agents attend their business and this has brought them distress and shame in their community.”
Smith’s defence lawyer Terry Morgans said she had a prolific employment history as a manager at Westpac and had worked with other major companies like global project management company AECOM, the BGW Group and the University of Queensland.
He said things became financially difficult for Smith and her husband as they had sold the family house “shortly before she lost her job”.
“They attempted to live off the moneys they had received from the sale of their house … but their savings were quickly depleted,” Mr Morgans said.
“They advertised the vehicle to alleviate some of the financial stress and do away with the obligations to pay some $1700 or so a month.”
Judge Coker sentenced Smith to three years’ jail for the fraud charge.
She received two years for the charge of attempting to pervert the course of justice, to be served concurrently.
He ordered both sentences be suspended after nine months and to be operational for a period of five years.
Originally published as Ex bank manager’s web of lies over BMW