Legal

Business group swindled out of $800,000 through fraud

Cara Waters /

The Australian American Association’s Victorian branch has been left devastated after over $800,000 was embezzled from it.

The non-profit organisation is aimed at fostering relations between Australia and the United States. 

Last week the Australian American Association’s former executive director, journalist Tony McAdam, received a suspended 15-month jail term after pleading guilty in the County Court to stealing $100,660.

But the Australian American Association claims McAdam embezzled much more.

Sam Muscat, president of the Australian American Association’s Victorian branch, told SmartCompany when McAdam was appointed the association had a “huge membership”, owned a property on Bourke Street in Melbourne’s CBD and had “in excess” of $800,000 in investments.

Alarm bells sounded when McAdam kept on making excuses as to why there were no financial reports and repeatedly blamed the association’s auditor.

“In 2007 he was dismissed in accordance with the rules of the organisation for allegedly embezzling over $800,000 from the Australian American Association’s investment fund,” Muscat says.

“I was appointed as treasurer and we were left with a bank balance of minus $1000.”

The fraud squad was called in to investigate and the association became embroiled in a court case against McAdam to recover the funds which dragged on for seven years.

“During the course of your employment you sold shares owned by the association without its knowledge or consent,” Judge Christopher Ryan told McAdam last week when sentencing him in the County Court

“You used the proceeds from the sale of shares to make unauthorised payments from the association’s cheque account.”

But McAdam’s sentencing doesn’t bring the Australian American Association of Victoria any closer to retrieving the embezzled funds.

McAdam now survives on a pension and lives alone in housing commission accommodation. 

“Why you stole the money and how the monies were used remain a mystery,” Judge Ryan told McAdam.

“It is plain that by your conduct you have caused real and possibly irreparable harm to your former employer”. 

Muscat says he “hates to think” what the prosecution has cost the taxpayer. 

“Because it is a white collar crime this guy literally walks away scot-free,” Muscat says.

“He does not even apologise and only admits guilt to $100,660.”

The Australian American Association of Victoria must now consider whether to pursue its bank and auditors to recover the missing funds.

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Cara Waters

Cara Waters is a former SmartCompany editor. Previously, Cara was a senior reporter for the Financial Times' website and worked for The Sunday Times in London.

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