A bank is suing Crown casino to recoup AUD 3.5 million of stolen money gambled by one of its former loan officers.
The Bendigo and Adelaide Bank claims Crown ignored the fact the pokies addict could not afford to put millions of dollars into the machines.
Kate Leanne Jamieson, who is serving four years‘ jail for fraud, told her court trial she was courted by the casino as a VIP, with free meals and accommodation, limousines and tickets to major events.
She told the judge who sentenced her to seven years: „I was totally seduced by (VIP rewards) because this was a side of life I have never seen before.“
Jamieson’s defence lawyer, Bernie Balmer, believed it was the first time a bank had tried to recover money stolen and gambled away by an employee in Victoria.
„If successful, it will open the floodgates for more actions (against the casino and gaming venues),“ he said.
In a Supreme Court writ lodged on April 1, the bank alleged the casino:
„Wilfully shut its eyes to the obvious fact“ Jamieson had stolen all or most of the money she bet at Crown.
„Wilfully and recklessly failed to make such inquiries as an honest and reasonable person“ would make as to the source of the funds wagered.
Knew of circumstances that would have indicated Jamieson was gambling with stolen money.
The writ said the bank wanted to recover the AUD 3.5 million Jamieson stole from July 2001 to May 2004.
Michael McNamara, of the Law Institute of Victoria, said the bank would force Crown to reveal what it knew about Jamieson.
That could include that she was a bank loans officer, lived in the northern suburbs and survived on her income.
„There are only several suburbs in Melbourne where houses are worth AUD 3.5 million, let alone people who have AUD 3.5 million in cash to gamble,“ Mr McNamara said.
He said if it was revealed Crown was aware of her circumstances, the question would be whether that knowledge should have started „alarm bells ringing“.
He said Crown might claim it did not suspect the money was stolen because it assumed a bank would have a system in place to stop fraud.
Jamieson, a mother of two from Lalor, told the County Court in 2006 she took up to AUD 20,000 cash to each gambling session during the height of her addiction.
The court heard Crown made a AUD 1.5 million profit on the AUD 3.5 million she gambled.
Crown declined to comment yesterday.
In a statement to the court, Jamieson said she accepted Crown’s VIP status and received free meals, accommodation and tickets to events such as the Australian Tennis Open and Grand Prix.
She shifted AUD 22 million between accounts over four years to hide her thefts.