Lawyer jailed for $5m mortgage fraud

A Victorian lawyer who stole almost $5 million from his clients by creating false mortgage documents has been sentenced to eight years in jail.

Alan Munt was sentenced at the Victorian Supreme Court last Thursday and is required to serve five-and-a-half years before being eligible for parole.

Mr Munt was convicted in February of creating false mortgage documents and forging signatures to steal $4,819,061.90 from his clients.

Over the course of the sentencing, Justice Betty King slammed authorities – including Victoria Police and the Legal Services Board (LSB) – for failing to investigate the matter earlier.

Mr Munt’s crimes were first brought to the attention of the Law Institute of Victoria (LIV) in 2009 by a concerned employee, after which Mr Munt confessed to the LIV. The case was immediately referred to the Victoria Police, which referred it to the LSB.

According to a statement by the LSB, it led the initial investigation into the trust account offences before Victoria Police launched its own investigation in 2012.

However, Mr Munt was not charged by the Department of Public Prosecutions until 2014.

Justice King said all the authorities involved had made mistakes, but she particularly condemned the police for failing to support the board’s investigation.

“It became abundantly clear that the delay was occasioned by the processes put in place by the Victoria Police and the Legal Services Commission,” she said.

“The public have been very poorly served by all of the organisations involved in this investigation, but I am particularly critical of the Victoria Police for putting resourcing issues ahead of the investigation of very serious criminal offending.”

In regards to Mr Munt’s crimes, Justice King said he abused the trust of his clients, as well as his family, friends and staff.

“You have left in your wake pain and suffering, feelings of loss, distrust, in some cases financial deprivation and heartache,” she said.

“Your behaviour in this case was appalling. It was predatory, manipulative and scheming, and carried out upon people who knew, liked, trusted, respected and, indeed, even cared about you.”

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