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An investigation by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA) has resulted in charges against an Australian diamond dealer over allegations he attempted to defraud creditors.
Mr Ron Bensimon, who was made bankrupt by presentation of a Debtor’s petition in July 2016, has been charged with six offences relating to his bankruptcy. Mr Bensimon appeared before Downing Centre Local Court on 2 February 2021. The offences carry maximum penalties of up to 5 years’ imprisonment, fines up to $54,000, or both.
The charges relate to allegations that Mr Bensimon failed to fully disclose his financial affairs to his trustee, provided a false declaration, gambled prior to his bankruptcy which materially contributed to his insolvency, and disposed of property with the intent to defraud creditors.
AFSA Deputy Chief Executive Gavin McCosker highlighted the importance of people who are bankrupt behaving honestly.
“Honesty is a key pillar of the personal insolvency system – and any attempts to act dishonestly are a serious breach of the system’s integrity,” Mr McCosker said.
“We appreciate that sometimes individuals facing financial hardship can make honest mistakes. This is why one of our key focus areas has been to simplify our systems and guidance to improve compliance.”
“However, there are consequences for non-compliance and consistent efforts to defraud creditors will be prosecuted accordingly.”
While undischarged from his bankruptcy, Mr Bensimon is alleged to have used significant jewellery assets as collateral for loans – property that was not identified by Mr Bensimon to his trustee.
Assets including cash and jewellery should have been declared to the trustee, in order to repay the funds owed to genuine creditors. It is also alleged that Mr Bensimon transferred large sums of money and gambled significant amounts prior to his bankruptcy, yet failed to provide details of these transactions when requested by the trustee.
Mr McCosker highlighted the importance of receiving intelligence from a variety of sources.
“While we have a sophisticated data matching and analysis program at AFSA, the information provided through our tip-off service is incredibly valuable in helping us to identify those who are misusing the insolvency system. In this case, the Registered Trustee involved alerted us to their concerns, allowing us to investigate and pursue charges.” Mr McCosker said.
“If you suspect wrongdoing, criminal misconduct, dishonesty or fraud, I encourage you to report it. Confidential reporting is available via the AFSA website at afsa.gov.au.”
Mr Bensimon’s case will be heard later in 2021.