Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records
Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records is a serious criminal offence. If you have been charged with this offence, we recommend you get in touch with an experienced criminal lawyer to start building your best defence.
This type of offence is often referred to as corporate crime or white-collar crime. That is that it is committed by either a corporation or individuals acting on behalf of a corporation or other business entity. While these types of crimes are typically non-violent crimes, the courts in New South Wales still take these types of offences very seriously.
If you have been charged with the offence of Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records, you could be facing penalties of up to imprisonment with a maximum sentence of 5 years. However, with the right lawyer, a court may dismiss the charge, without recording a conviction, if you have not been in trouble before and the example of the offending is not too serious.
Australian Criminal Lawyers regularly help clients beat charges of Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records. Where they chose to plead guilty, we get them the best possible outcomes for their case. This includes section 10 no convictions.
What is “Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records”?
The offence of Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records is dealt with in section 192F of the Crimes Act 1900 which states that;
(1) A person who dishonestly destroys or conceals any accounting record with the intention of—
(a) obtaining property belonging to another, or
(b) obtaining a financial advantage or causing a financial disadvantage,
is guilty of an offence.
(2) destroy includes obliterate.
Simply put, Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records is an offence where a person intended to obtain property or financial advantage or cause financial disadvantage by dishonestly destroying or concealing accounts records.
The offence of Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records replaced the offence of Director Wilfully Destroying Books of a Company, section 275 of the Crimes Act 1900 (NSW) in February 2010. The new offence means that anybody that dishonestly destroys or conceals accounting records can be charged with this offence, regardless of the position they hold or relationship with the company. Now, to be charged, a person does not even need to be employed in the company.
Examples of Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records?
Charges could be placed for the destruction of any accounting records of a company in order to obtain an advantage. This includes anything from printed invoices to electronic records.
The act of destroying or concealing the documents could include shredding, burning or disposing of printed records or deleting electronic records. It could also include cancelling electronic records by intentionally renaming and/or refiling them so that they are not easily discoverable.
A criminal offence is committed when any of the above is done so to obtain property or financial advantage or to cause financial disadvantage. For example, if you were to obtain loans for amounts otherwise not entitled to, to obtain government assistance or grants, or to avoid having to make scheduled payments on loans.
What must police prove for a conviction?
If you have been charged with “Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records”, police will have to prove beyond reasonable doubt that
- You destroyed or concealed accounting records
- You did this with the intention to obtain property belonging to someone else; or
- You did this with the intention to obtain a financial advantage or cause a financial disadvantage
- You did this by deception; and
- You were dishonest when doing so
If the police cannot prove any of the above elements, then you won’t be found guilty of this offence.
‘Dishonesty’ is determined according to the standards of ordinary people and known by you to be dishonest according to those standards.
‘Destroy’ includes obliterate.
Defences for Intention to Defraud by Destroying or Concealing Accounting Records
You will not be found guilty of Intention to defraud by destroying account records if you can prove that;
- You didn’t destroy or conceal the accounting records
- You had no intention of obtaining property, financial advantage or causing financial disadvantage by destroying or concealing the records.
- You honestly believed you were entitled to destroy or conceal the accounting records
- You honestly didn’t know the nature of the accounting records and you were following instructions to destroy or conceal them.
- Your conduct was not dishonest
- You were under duress
Even if you plan to plead guilty to Intend to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting documents, your defence team can help you get a more lenient sentence and/or negotiate on your behalf to have some charges dropped or lessened before you even go to court.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
Normally charges are heard in the local court, however, the prosecutor can elect to have the matter dealt with in the District Court. District Court normally only deals with serious crimes or where the defendant has also been charged with a more serious offence. Where the matter is dealt with in the District Court, the penalties imposed are generally harsher than when in Local Court.
Penalties for Intention to defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records:
If you have been found guilty of destroying or concealing accounting records with the intention to defraud, you could be facing a maximum penalty of five years imprisonment.
Other penalties include fines, home detention, intensive correction order (ICO), Suspended Sentence, Community Service Order (CSO), Community Corrections Order (CCO), Good Behaviour Bond, Section 10 non-conviction, or a Conditional Release Order (CRO).
There are a number of factors that the courts will use to determine the appropriate punishment. This includes;
- The amount of money involved,
- The sophistication of planning and organisation to commit the act,
- The length of time to plan and/or commit the crime. E.g. Did it require ongoing dishonest and deceitful conduct sustained or repeated over time
- The motivation of the accused. E.g. Was it purely motivated by greed or was it for the “greater good”
- The level of breach of trust involved
Why use Australian Criminal Law Group
Having the right criminal lawyers on your team can be the difference between getting the best possible outcomes or not.
Australian Criminal Law Group regularly helps clients charged with Intention to Defraud by destroying or concealing accounting records to get the best possible results for their case. Where they chose to plead guilty, we regularly help them avoid gaol time, get non-convictions and reduced penalties.
Sources: Crimes Act 1900 No 40, Section 192F. Current Version for 1 January 2022 to date (accessed 21 February 2022). https://legislation.nsw.gov.au/view/html/inforce/current/act-1900-040
This information is intended as a general guide to law only. It should not be relied on as legal advice, and it is recommended that you speak with a qualified lawyer about your situation.
Australian Criminal Law Group and its suppliers make every reasonable effort to ensure the accuracy and validity of the information provided on its web pages. At the time of updating, this information was correct, however, given the laws in NSW and Australia are continually changing, Australian Criminal Law Group makes no warranties or representations as to its accuracy.