Cruise

Bookkeeper who stole $3.7m from Silversea says she felt “hard done by” at work

A bookkeeper working for Silversea Cruises who cheated the company out of $3.7 million because she felt “hard done by” has been sentenced to eight years in jail.

Mary Ann Abellanoza was charged with 98 counts of fraud in may after she transferred $3.7 million into seven bank accounts under her control and used a downloadable generator to create fake invoices.

The Sydney Morning Herald reported that Abellanoza wept as the sentence was handed down and said she intends to spend the rest of her life trying to pay back the money.

Judge Jane Culver said the 53-year-old’s “heartfelt remorse” were treated with a “considerable degree of caution” as a significant amount of the money is still unaccounted for.

Abellanoza’s sentence was discounted to eight years with a five-year non-parole period because of her guilty plea, which included four charges of dishonestly obtaining financial benefit by deception and three charges of dealing with the proceeds of crime, according to SMH.

The latter charges were because she laundered the money through poker machines at clubs in Sydney’s west.

SMH reported a $3.1 million of the money was put through poker machines at Rooty hill RSL Club, Dooleys Catholic Club and Canterbury League Club.

“The only view that can be rationally taken of those figures and circumstances was that the gambling was the primary vehicle for money laundering,” Judge Culver said.

Abellanoza’s lawyers told the court she felt “hard done by” and “undervalued” in the workplace and was offered an assistant to ease her workload but claims she did not receive one.

They also claimed she was making the fraudulent payments to prove the cruise line’s systems were faulty.

According to a Statement from Silversea, the allegations of work pressure and inadequate auditing were not raised by Abellanoza during the cruise line’s internal review or during subsequent civil proceedings.

“Additional resource was offered to Ms Abellanoza during her employment, which she declined,” the statement said.

“Ms Abellanoza held a position of significant trust and had a fiduciary duty to act at all times in the company’s best interests. This extended to reporting issues or concerns to management.

“This matter has at all times been treated by our company with the utmost seriousness. Customers can be assured that our business offerings have not been affected and our systems are secure.”

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