This article was written by Anastasia Qvist - Associate - Canberra

Ana is based in our Canberra office and practices in both ACT and NSW jurisdictions. Ana has over 5 years’ experience working as a criminal law advocate. Ana has appeared in the Local, District and Supreme Court in NSW and the Magistrates Court in the ACT. Ana is a strong advocate in the courtroom and has appeared without counsel in...

False Accounting


In the ACT, it is an offence to carry out false accounting. The offence of false accounting is contained in section 350 of the Criminal Code 2002 and is punishable by a maximum penalty of seven years imprisonment and/or a fine of 700 penalty units.

What is false accounting?

The offence of false accounting is committed where a person:

  • Dishonestly destroys or conceals an accounting document; and
  • Does so with the intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss

OR

  • Makes or assists to make a false entry or an entry that is misleading as to a fact or detail in an accounting document; or
  • Omits or assists to omit a fact or detail from an accounting document; and
  • Does so with the intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss

OR

  • Dishonestly presents or uses an accounting document with a false or misleading fact or detail; and
  • Are reckless about whether the document is false or misleading about a fact or detail; and
  • Does so with the intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss

A person who commits the offence of false accounting is liable to imprisonment for up to seven years and/or a fine of 700 penalty units.

Specific intent offence

False accounting is a specific intent offence. This means that in order to prove a person is guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, the prosecution must show that the actions were carried out with a specific intent; in this case the accused must have had the intent to obtain a gain or to cause a loss.

What is an accounting document?

An accounting document is an account, record or other document made or needed for an accounting purpose.

What actions might constitute false accounting?

There are a variety of actions that may expose a person to this charge. These include:

  • Hiding company books from an auditor to avoid liabilities;
  • Making false entries in a business’s books to allow an individual to make an unauthorised gain;
  • Destroying paperwork that you were bound by law to keep for a specified period of time.

Possible defences

It may be possible to defend the charge of false accounting by arguing:

  • That the offence was committed under duress;
  • That the document was not an accounting document;
  • That the relevant entry or omission was not in respect of an accounting document;
  • That the relevant entry was not false or misleading;
  • That the alleged offender did not have the intention to obtain a gain or cause a loss

Which court will hear the matter?

If a person is charged with this offence, the matter can be dealt with by either the ACT Magistrates Court or the ACT Supreme Court. If the matter is finalised in the Magistrates Court then the court must not impose a penalty that exceeds a fine of $15,000, imprisonment for five years, or both.

If you require legal advice or representation in any legal matter, please contact Armstrong Legal.

WHERE TO NEXT?

If you suspect that you may be under investigation, or if you have been charged with an offence, it is vital to get competent legal advice as early as possible. Our lawyers are highly specialised in criminal law and will be able to guide you through the process while dealing with the various authorities related to your matter.

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