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A South Australian man has been sentenced after pleading guilty to multiple charges of fraud and dishonesty following an investigation by the Australian Financial Security Authority (AFSA).
Mr Gojko Ugrica was sentenced to more than 3 years imprisonment, with a non-parole period of 12 months.
As the personal insolvency regulator, AFSA investigated Mr Ugrica following a referral from the trustees administering his bankrupt estate, who discovered he had made large cash transfers to Serbia.
Mr Ugrica, who was made bankrupt by sequestration order on 10 August 2015, fraudulently incurred debts totalling $220,000 to 3 separate individuals.
He claimed he required capital to deliver a building redevelopment project at the Royal Adelaide Hospital. Mr Ugrica admitted that the funds were in fact taken overseas to repay ‘loan sharks’ in Serbia.
He made a false declaration in his Statement of Affairs by not including details of the $220,000 owed to his unsecured creditors. He also produced a false loan document to justify transferring over $1 million dollars to Serbia, providing a financial alibi for the recipient.
AFSA National Manager Enforcement & Practitioner Surveillance, Sarah Marshall, said this case highlighted the severity of the punishment for blatantly misusing the system.
‘A strong credit system relies on a strong personal insolvency system,’ Ms Marshall said.
‘AFSA will thoroughly investigate and refer for prosecution anyone who deliberately commits fraud, misleads their trustees and fails to comply with their legal obligations.’
‘As a visible, modern and contemporary regulator AFSA uses the levers of education, compliance and enforcement to maximise our impact.’
‘This matter is a clear example of the strong action we take to address harms.’
In sentencing, His Honour Judge Slattery noted the importance of general deterrence in this type of offence.
‘This court has a significant responsibility to protect the members of the community by imposing punishments for deliberate and sustained fraud,’ Judge Slattery said.
‘Those involving themselves in this type of offending can expect severe punishment.’
Mr Ugrica appeared before the District Court of South Australia where he pled guilty to 4 offences under the Bankruptcy Act 1966; 3 counts of incurring debt by fraud and 1 count of knowingly making a false declaration. Mr Ugrica also pled guilty to one count of producing a false or misleading document under the Commonwealth Criminal Code Act.
In addition to the jail sentence, Mr Ugrica was ordered to pay reparations of $220,000.
The matter was prosecuted by the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions on behalf of AFSA.
Suspected wrongdoing, criminal misconduct, dishonesty, or fraud in a personal insolvency can be reported to AFSA at Reporting a tip-off. Tip-offs can be made anonymously.
Mr Ugrica was sentenced on 28 August 2023 to total sentence of 3 years, 3 months and 17 days imprisonment with a non-parole period of 12 months:
- Counts 1 – 3 265 (5) (b): 2 years, 8 months and 10 days imprisonment
- Count 4 – 267 (2) and Count 5 – 137.2: 7 months and 7 days imprisonment
- The sentence for Count 4 and 5 was cumulative on the sentence imposed for Counts 1-3