In Victoria, false accounting carries a maximum penalty of 10 years imprisonment. The charge of false accounting may also be accompanied by other charges, such as, gaining a financial advantage or property by deception. Depending on the circumstances of the case, charges may also be laid pursuant to the Corporations Act, the Anti-Money Laundering and Counter-Terrorism Financing Act, or the Taxation Administration Act.
Penalties the Court can impose for this charge:
- Imprisonment (Jail – Full Time)
- Community Corrections Orders
- Adjourned undertaking
The Offence of False Accounting:
The offence of false accounting is contained in section 83 of the Crimes Act 1958 which states:
Where a person dishonestly, with a view to gain for himself or another or with intent to cause loss to another –
- destroys, defaces, conceals or falsifies any account or any record or document made or required for any accounting purpose; or
- is furnishing information for any purpose produces or makes use of any account, or such record or document as aforesaid, which to his knowledge is or may be misleading, false or deceptive in a material particular –
he is guilty of an indictable offence and liable to level 5 imprisonment (10 years maximum).
What Actions Might Constitute False Accounting?
- Understating the revenue of a company to obtain a greater discount on a product;
- Deleting accounting data to cause a greater rebate;
- Hiding accounting information which would otherwsie cause a financial loss.
What is an Accounting Purpose?
This charge only relates to records and documents for an “accounting purpose”. Accordingly, this charge may only be laid with respect to books of account and documents required for accounting purposes.
What the Police Must Prove:
To convict you of false accounting, the prosecution must prove each of the following matters beyond a reasonable doubt:
- That you acted dishonestly;
- With the intent to gain an advantage for yourself or with the intention of causing a loss to another.
And, that you either:
- Destroyed, defaced, concealed or falsified;
- A record or document made or required for an accounting purpose; or,
- Furnished information, produced or made use of;
- Any account record or document which you know to be misleading, false or deceptive in a material way.
Possible Defences for False Accounting:
Possible defences to a false accounting charge include but are not limited to:
- Lack of Intent;
- Factual Dispute.
Which Court Will Hear Your Matter?
False accounting is an indictable offence which may be heard in the Magistrates’ Court or County Court. If the charge is heard in the Magistrates’ Court, the maximum penalty is reduced to 2 years imprisonment.