Disgraced former Liberal Party state director for Victoria Damien Mantach has been sentenced to five years’ jail after pleading guilty to defrauding the party of $1.55 million.
Mr Mantach claims he committed the fraud in an attempt to save his failing marriage.
Victorian County Court judge Liz Gaynor said Mr Mantach’s willingness to admit to his crime, along with his remorse and failing marriage were all taken into account, but the judge believed that “the only option open to this court is a term of imprisonment”.
The former state director pleaded guilty to 15 charges of obtaining financial advantage by deception after he embezzled more than 50 payments from the Liberal Party war chest. In theory, each charge carries maximum penalties between 10 and 20 years in jail.
Mr Mantach used $610,000 of the money he defrauded to buy a café for his wife Jodie. He also used party funds to buy $506,000 in shares, an $82,000 car and $45,000 to repay his mortgage – all in an ill-fated attempt to save his marriage.
Ironically, he was kicked out of his house by his wife the day after he admitted to his fraudulent behaviour. His marriage is now “irretrievably over”.
Mr Mantach will be eligible for parole in two years and eight months.
Read more at The Age
What do you think of Mr Mantach’s sentence? Is it fair? Or, considering he could have faced a much longer jail term, do you think this is yet another example of how the top end of town can do what they want with minimal consequences? Is this case even more reason we should create a corruption watchdog that oversees political activities as well as banking and finance?