Darwin travel agent jailed for fraud

Darwin travel agent jailed for fraud
By admin

The Darwin travel agent found guilty of rorting a government-subsidised pensioner travel concession scheme has been sentenced to three years 11 months in prison.

Alexandra “Xana” Kamitsis of Darwin agency Latitude Travel was sentenced in the Darwin Supreme Court on Tuesday after she was found guilty on 20 counts of obtaining benefits by deception between 2009 and 2013 earlier this month.

Kamitsis was found  to have fraudulently invoiced the scheme, run by the Northern Territory Health Department, for inflated flight costs when she had actually been buying cheaper flights for pensioners and then pocketing the difference. In some cases she had booked no travel at all. Forged signatures and false receipts had been used to cover her tracks, with the money then spent on family and friends or to make donations to organisations.

Kamitsis’ Latitude Travel, based in Northern Territory, is in no way associated with Latitude Group Travel based in Victoria.

Acting Justice Mildren said that, although Kamitsis had no prior convictions, she is “not a person of previous good character” and that she had been driven by “personal greed”.

However, he took several factors into account before delivering her sentence such as her cooperation during her jury trial as well as her agreement to give evidence, and then her decision to plead guilty, to a further three charges.

In addition, he noted that Kamitsis’ husband had repaid more than $110,000 of the $123,632.10 she pocketed. “Relentless” media coverage would also add the the “shame and isolation” suffered by her and her family.

“I am not persuaded there is any remorse by the defendant, but there was at least resipiscence – an acknowledgment and acceptance of her own wrongdoing and an intention to assist the administration of justice by bringing these matters to a conclusion,’’ he said, as reported in the NT News.

Her sentence was backdated to December 1 on account of time already spent on remand. It will be suspended after she has served 18 months in prison.

Meanwhile, the Northern Territory Labor opposition has called for the housing minister to be stood down and a full investigation launched into government travel booked with that agency, AAP reported. Kamitsis had pleaded guilty to giving benefits to Paul Mossman, chief of staff to Housing Minister Bess Price.


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