Inside the raid on NAB fraudster’s palatial Sydney home

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It was a genial Helen Rosamond who took police on a tour of her palatial Potts Point terrace in April 2018.

A team of officers from NSW Police descended on the Victoria Street home to execute a search warrant related to Rosamond’s suspected role in defrauding the National Australia Bank of millions.

Helen Rosamond in stills taken from NSW Police footage during the execution of a search warrant at her Potts Point home on April 10, 2018.Credit: NSW Police

On the surface, the then 42-year-old was manicured and assured.

“Can I offer anybody a cup of tea or a coffee or a glass of water?” Rosamond asked, with a hint of the Lancashire accent that survived her emigration to Australia in her 20s.

“Be careful on these stairs; people end up tripping down because they’re quite sharp.”

Over 90 minutes, police scoured the Sydney businesswoman’s four-floor, five-bedroom home, including her walk-in wardrobe featuring dozens of shoes and handbags, and seized a million-dollar NAB cheque made out to Rosamond, dated December 2017.

Helen Rosamond during the NSW Police search of her home in April 2018.Credit: NSW Police

Rosamond, now 48, stood trial in the Downing Centre District Court in Sydney last year on multiple charges of defrauding the NAB and paying kickbacks to a senior bank insider, Rosemary Rogers. The jury was played footage from the police search during the four-month trial.

On Thursday, Judge Robert Sutherland sentenced Rosamond to a maximum of 15 years’ jail for her part in the scam, which resulted in an estimated loss to the bank of up to $9.8 million. Taking into account time already served, Rosamond will first be eligible for parole in eight years in December 2030.

The jury found Rosamond guilty in November of 59 counts of giving a corrupt benefit to Rogers – akin to the “old-fashioned concept of bribery”, Sutherland said – and 31 counts of dishonestly obtaining, or attempting to dishonestly obtain, a financial advantage by deception.

The court heard Rosamond used her North Sydney-based event management company Human Group, which organised functions for the bank including leadership retreats, to bill the bank for extravagant personal expenses disguised as legitimate invoices.

Rogers was Rosamond’s woman on the inside. The chief of staff to then-NAB chief executives Cameron Clyne and Andrew Thorburn was a trusted and long-time bank employee authorised to approve invoices worth up to $20 million.

Helen Rosamond’s walk-in wardrobe shown in NSW Police footage tendered in her District Court criminal trial.Credit: NSW Police

Rogers admitted to rubber-stamping Rosamond’s inflated invoices between 2013 and 2017. She received more than $5.5 million in gifts from Rosamond, billed to the bank, including $1.5 million for a house, a $620,000 US holiday for eight including a private jet, a $115,000 boat and a $172,000 BMW.

Rosamond, meanwhile, spent $228,747 of NAB’s money on an interior designer to furnish her terrace and almost $18,000 for an Indigenous artwork Sutherland observed was “on the walls at the Potts Point premises when the search warrant was executed”.

She spent a further $14,358 on catering for her swanky 40th birthday featuring ice sculptures and singing waiters, $372,611 on landscaping her former marital home in Mosman and $86,413 for renovations.

The fraud perpetrated by the duo was “breathtaking in its audacity”, Sutherland said, and “the opulence of the lifestyles they both pursued was stunning”. He said Rosamond was motivated by “greed rather than need”.

Sutherland noted that a “substantial proportion” of the stolen money went to Rogers, but the benefits flowing to Rosamond from the duo’s corrupt arrangement were not limited to personal expenses billed to NAB. It included ensuring Human Group’s contract with the bank continued, under which she received “ongoing profits by way of mark-ups and fees”.

The judge said Rosamond attempted to defraud NAB of $3.3 million in 2018, even after Rogers had left the bank.

Sutherland said a psychological report, tendered in court, suggested Rosamond grew up “in a supportive family with both of her parents and three sisters in Lancashire”.

Rosamond had no prior convictions and Sutherland accepted she was unlikely to reoffend, but he said that “white collar fraud offences are most frequently committed by persons of prior good character, and such prior good character often allows them to be in the position in which they subsequently commit the frauds”.

NAB launched civil proceedings in 2019 against Human Group and Rosamond in a bid to obtain compensation, among other orders. The District Court heard on Thursday that the bank was now seeking compensation under victims’ rights laws.

Rosamond sought unsuccessfully to have the jury discharged in her trial last year and was knocked back in her bid to challenge the decision in the Court of Criminal Appeal.

Rogers, the star witness in Rosamond’s trial, was jailed in 2021 for a maximum of eight years with a non-parole period of four years and nine months after pleading guilty to a string of offences, including 27 counts of corruptly receiving a benefit from Rosamond. She received a discount for giving evidence against her former friend and confidant.

Sutherland said “Rogers knew that the corrupt benefits she was receiving were included in the inflated invoices, and that there was a likely benefit to Rosamond by virtue of markups in fees” but she was unaware of the “personal acquisitions and payments by Rosamond”.

Rosamond thanked the police officers who searched her home, telling them they had been “incredibly polite and respectful”.

“I’ll come across later on and have a cup of tea with you,” she told her mother in a phone call during the search. “All’s OK, don’t worry.”

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