Accountant Sandra Balfour jailed for stealing nearly $2m while working for car dealership in Brisbane

A longtime accountant for a Brisbane car dealership who stole nearly $2million from the business to fund his gambling addiction has been jailed for eight years.

Sandra Balfour, 67, has pleaded guilty to one count of fraud, admitting to illegally transferring funds from Brisbane Motor Auctions and Platinum Vehicle Sales to her own personal bank account between 2010 and 2018.

A sentencing hearing in Brisbane Supreme Court was told Balfour had worked as an accountant for more than 20 years and was a “trusted employee” who had access to the company’s accounts and payment system.

The court heard over an eight-year period that she made a “large number of low-key transactions” totaling $1.89 million, disguising the transfers by labeling them with generic terms, so as not to ” raise a red flag”.

To avoid detection, she used another employee’s login credentials to generate the payments and then used her own credentials to authorize them, the court heard.

Crown prosecutor Eddie Coker told the court there was nothing sophisticated about his offence, but it was significant.

“It’s a very serious case, but also at the same time, quite simple,” he said.

“It’s money transferred from the company’s account to his account.”

The court heard its breach was discovered when a customer complained that they had not received an insurance product they had purchased, and the company discovered that the same amount had been transferred to Balfour.

“Feeding an Addiction”

Defense lawyer Matthew Hynes told the court the “underlying reason” she took the money was to support a gambling habit which she used as an “escapist”.

“[The money] went straight into the slots,” he said.

“It’s not about someone living a greedy, lavish life – it feeds an addiction.”

The court heard she previously faced a landmark criminal conviction for a similar offence, where she “overpaid” herself $30,000 in checks from a former employer.

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