Former Katherine travel agent pleads guilty to defrauding NT … – ABC – ABC Online

8 months ago Comments Off on Former Katherine travel agent pleads guilty to defrauding NT … – ABC – ABC Online


March 11, 2016 15:28:22

A Katherine woman who ran her own travel agency has pleaded guilty to defrauding the NT Government of about $40,000, with the court hearing she learnt the practice of inflating invoices when she worked for another business.

Tennille Kim Foley was one of several travel agents raided recently, and is the latest case in the pensioner travel concession rorts saga that last year jailed Darwin socialite travel agent Xana Kamitsis.

The case of Kamitsis also saw the resignation of Territory police commissioner John McRoberts with whom she had previously had an intimate relationship.

Foley, 38, pleaded guilty in the Darwin Magistrates Court to one count of obtaining benefit by deception.

Prosecutor David Morters told the court Foley was the sole director and principal shareholder of Tripco, which traded as Travel World Katherine.

He said between January 2011 and June 2013, Foley – or employees acting under her direction – submitted 88 invoices to the Health Department under the pensioner travel concession scheme.

The scheme gives travel discounts to pensioners and carers.

Mr Morters said of those 88 invoices, 69 were “overstated”.

“She defrauded the Government to the amount of $40,514,” he said.

Travel agent ‘had seen invoices inflated in early 2000s’

Mr Morters said Foley stated she had “first been introduced to the process of submitting inflated invoices” when she worked as a travel agent with another agency.

The Magistrates Court heard Foley had given a statement to police and was willing to give evidence.

Defence lawyer Peter Maley said his client worked at Flight Centre for four years, between 2000 and 2004, after which she ran her own travel business until 2014.

Mr Maley said Foley had completed her training at Flight Centre.

The court heard she had no previous relevant convictions, and she was a carer to her elderly parents.

The case was adjourned to assess Foley for home detention.

Ongoing crackdown of travel booking rorting

Several travel agencies have now been raided during the long-running police investigation into rorting of the scheme.

In August last year, allegations surfaced of anomalies in bookings made by several companies, including Flight Centre.

At the time, police said they were still conducting a review of financial records, as part of a taskforce with other government agencies, and only then could it be determined whether criminal acts had taken place.

Flight Centre, at that point, said it was reviewing its transactions.

Today, NT Health Minister John Elferink said issues were still outstanding and the Government was continuing “to seek redress from Flight Centre”.

“Matters are under investigation,” Mr Elferink said in a statement.

“If any criminality becomes apparent it will be pursued irrespective of settlement.”

The ABC has contacted Flight Centre about what, if any, re-payments have been made.

In December, former NT Crime Stoppers chairwoman Kamitsis was sentenced to three years and 11 months in prison – suspended after 18 months – for rorting the scheme and corruptly giving benefits to a political staffer.

The fraud committed by Kamitsis totalled almost $124,000.

During the trial, the court heard Kamitsis used the extra money to “ingratiate herself” with family and friends, including former NT police commissioner McRoberts.





Former Katherine travel agent pleads guilty to defrauding NT … – ABC – ABC Online