Accountant allegedly defrauded clients of $26 million to fund gambling addiction

Accountant allegedly defrauded clients of  million to fund gambling addiction
Accountant allegedly defrauded clients of  million to fund gambling addiction

Sydney accountant Benjamin Carter allegedly misused his position at a brewery owned by NRL star Nathan Cleary and UFC star Tai “Bam Bam” Tuivasa as part of a $26 million fraud all to feed his “pathological” gambling addiction.

Carter’s pregnant partner, herself accused of covering up the alleged fraud, has wept as a court heard of his gambling “red flags” and alleged links to international criminal syndicates.

Ben Carter, founder of Carter’s Tax Advisory, is accused of defrauding clients of $26 million to fund his lavish lifestyle. Credit: Suppplied

NSW Police’s anti-bikie squad Raptor, in June, took up a Tax Practitioners Board investigation into Carters Tax Advisory in Penrith after reports of fraud.

Police prosecutors told the court the 16,000 pages of evidence against Carter were “overwhelming” and included the accountant making some admissions to the allegations.

Carter allegedly misused his position at a brewery part-owned by NRL star Nathan Cleary.

Carter allegedly misused his position at a brewery part-owned by NRL star Nathan Cleary.Credit: Getty

Carter, police told the court, was convicted of fraud in 2008 after he used his role as a bank teller to steal $30,000 from a client.

They asked for his bail to be refused, fearing Carter could call on “high ranking” organised crime figures offshore and in Australia to flee.

Police sources not authorised to speak publicly said it’s believed Carter has links to the Alameddine crime network.

Carter’s firm had risen to prominence during the pandemic, appearing in the local newspaper and winning local business awards on the back of slick social media.

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The accountant proudly shook hands with an executive from the Penrith Panthers announcing a “partnership” with the club in a promotional video in late 2019. Carter’s firm said it would provide the players and staff with financial advice.

Behind the facade of success was a man with a “pathological” gambling problem involving betting giant Sportsbet, Carter’s lawyer Nick Hanna said.

“Nearly all of the money ended up with Sportsbet with no attempts to put it through various accounts under his control – to wash it,” Hanna told Penrith Local Court on Wednesday.

Carter was arrested at a Silverdale home in the city’s west on Tuesday.

Carter was arrested at a Silverdale home in the city’s west on Tuesday.Credit: NSW Police

“A significant part of that money (allegedly) came from misappropriated funds, some are legitimate funds from his business, salary, dividends and loans.”

Court documents allege Carter was lodging tax returns for his clients and pocketing the refunds from the tax office. Other times, the documents allege, he would tell clients they had a debt to the tax office when they didn’t – he allegedly stole that money as well.

Among Carter’s victims, police allege, is a potential investor in the Drink West Brewery which is part-owned by Cleary, Tuivasa and another UFC fighter, Tyson Pedro.

The court documents allege Carter was chief financial officer for Drink West and told an investor he would buy $440,000 worth of shares on his behalf. That money, police allege, was instead stolen by Carter instead.

Drink West cut ties with Carter in July 2022, a spokesperson told the Herald.

“Mr Carter is not an officeholder or shareholder of Drink West or any of its associated entities and has not been for quite some time.”

Hanna told the court Carter was accused of misappropriating $26 million but $20 million had been effectively “loaned” to him by Sportsbet. That included the betting company offering to match, dollar-for-dollar, the money Carter gambled.

Penrith accountant Ben Carter and his partner and receptionist Amy Steele.

Penrith accountant Ben Carter and his partner and receptionist Amy Steele.Credit: Facebook

“Sportsbet was not a passive recipient, rather there are allegations Sportsbet induced and incentivised his behaviour,” the solicitor said.

Carter is suing Sportsbet in the Federal Court, Hanna added, alleging they ignored “red flag behaviours” after reviewing him in 2021 and 2022.

Sportsbet gave Carter corporate box tickets, flew him to gambling events and paid for his accommodation, Hanna told the court, even after concerns were raised about his capacity to lawfully fund his gambling.

Carter’s accounting company went dark online after detectives marched him from his Silverdale home on Tuesday morning.

Hanna bristled in court at the suggestion Carter would flee Australia by calling on criminal networks. Carter’s mother offered up her house as surety and Hanna said he had never fled, despite knowing about the investigation for a long time.

Carter’s 25-year-old receptionist and partner, Amy Steele, was arrested at a business in Penrith minutes after Carter’s arrest.

Ben Carter and Amy Steele’s baby revelation in June. Carter is accused of defrauding clients of $26 million while Steele is accused of covering it up.

Ben Carter and Amy Steele’s baby revelation in June. Carter is accused of defrauding clients of $26 million while Steele is accused of covering it up.

Social media reveals the pair are expecting a child together and just posted a gender reveal photograph last month.

Detectives will allege Steele tried to conceal Carter’s fraud.

Police searched both Carter’s home and business, seizing electronic devices, hard drives and documents. They also found a small amount of a substance believed to be two grams of cocaine.

Carter was charged with 16 offences including 14 counts of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception, knowingly dealing with proceeds of crime and possessing a prohibited drug.

He appeared in a black hoodie on the video screen in Penrith Local Court on Wednesday morning as Hanna asked for him to be released on bail.

The magistrate declined and Carter’s partner stood up and left the court in tears.

Steele was charged with recklessly dealing with the proceeds of crime, which were greater than $5000, and granted conditional bail because she is pregnant.

Steele will appear before Penrith Local Court on July 27. Carter will return in September.

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Source: smh.com.au

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