Victorian man convicted after failing to disclose bankruptcy

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A Victorian man has been convicted in the Melbourne Magistrates Court, after pleading guilty to a breach of the Bankruptcy Act 1966.

Mr Giuseppe (Joseph) Catalano was charged with obtaining services without disclosing his bankruptcy, after failing to tell a private school that he had an undischarged bankruptcy when enrolling his son and committing to the school’s fees.

He was fined $2,500 and has been ordered to pay restitution to the school, an amount of just under $20,000.

Mr Catalano was first declared bankrupt in 1997 by an order of the court and has not yet submitted his Statement of Affairs. As a result of this failure to comply, Mr Catalano will remain bankrupt until his Statement of Affairs has been accepted by the Official Receiver.

In addition to the first bankruptcy in 1997, Mr Catalano declared bankruptcy for the second time in February 2015. As part of the bankruptcy declaration, he acknowledged the legal requirement to tell a supplier that he had an undischarged bankruptcy. At that point, he owed the private school almost $30,000.

AFSA Deputy Chief Executive Gavin McCosker highlighted the importance of honesty when facing financial difficulty.

‘Being in financial difficulty can be an incredibly stressful time in an individual’s life,’ Mr McCosker said.

‘However, this does not excuse poor behaviour and failing to comply with your obligations.’

‘If you have entered into personal insolvency, it’s important to adhere to the requirements – and failing to do so can result in criminal charges, as has occurred in this case.’

In sentencing, the Magistrate stated that she had taken into consideration his early guilty plea, balanced against the need for specific and general deterrence, and decided on a fine and a restitution order to be paid to the private school.