Petrol station manager’s $400k fraud plot

Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering, Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

A man who used his position as petrol station manager and president of a popular athletics club to defraud and launder more than $400,000 has been jailed.

Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira, 59, pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday to two counts of committing fraud as an employee and one count of money laundering.

Crown prosecutor Victoria Adams said while Ferreira was employed as a manager for eight years at the BP petrol station in the inner Brisbane city suburb of Milton he defrauded more than $400,000 from his employer between July 2015 to November 2019.

Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira defrauded more than $400,000 from his employer at BP Milton. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Damian Shaw

Ms Adams said Ferreira was failing to follow the cash management systems put in place by his employer and was instructing his staff to do the same.

The court was told there were two safes used by the business, with the first safe requiring staff to use a unique code to open it.

The second safe, which staff used to change larger notes for smaller denominations, was expected to be audited regularly.

Ms Adams said Ferreira told his staff to stop doing the regular checks and balances.

Instead, Ferreira instructed staff to deposit money into the second safe, which was less secure, and he would later deposit the money into accounts he had access to at the end of his shift, totalling more than $400,000 over the four year period.

She said Ferreira created inaccurate daily reports to conceal his deception and make it look like all the money was accounted for and balanced.

The court was told three tills were also in use when Ferreira was on shift and the cash was never deposited into the safes from his till.

Ms Adams said when customers would purchase cigarettes from the BP Milton, Ferreira would record the transaction as 10 cents on the till and pocket the money the customer paid in cash.

She said Ferreira would also sometimes ring up cigarettes for 10 cents on the till and keep the packet of smokes for himself.

The court was told the cigarette fraud had cost the business more than $10,000 over more than 560 transactions.

Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira had been pocketing money from his job at the BP Milton station for four years. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Gaye Gerard

During this time, Ferreira had also used his position as the volunteer president of the Brisbane Athletics Club to launder the money he was taking from his job at BP Milton, the court was told.

Ms Adams said $10,000 was also taken from the club’s account.

Ferreira’s barrister, Matthew Hynes, said his client was “moving money around” by using the club’s accounts to achieve his plan.

He said the money was “funnelled” through the athletics club accounts, Ferreira’s account and another account Ferreira had access to.

Ferreira was let go from his job at BP Milton in November 2019.

Mr Hynes said his client, who moved to Australia with his family from Portugal when he was 18, had strong ties to the Brisbane Portuguese community, having held the volunteer role as the Portuguese Club president from 2007 to 2019 as well as being the athletics club president.

Ms Adams said Ferreira had since been convicted and fined in August 2023 for fraudulently claiming he was a qualified physiotherapist and seeing patients.

Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira pleaded guilty in Brisbane District Court on Tuesday to fraud and money laundering. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dan Peled

Judge Jennifer Rosengren sentenced Ferreira to six years in jail for his plan to take “a lot of money” from his employer.

“At the end of the day, what is clear is your employer did not invite you to steal from it and it did expect you to behave as an honest employee,” Ms Rosengren said.

“You deliberately set out to get this money which you absolutely knew was not yours.

“If you chose to breach the trust given to you then, there was nothing to prevent you from exploiting the systems that had been put in place.”

Ms Rosengren said Ferreira’s involvement of the athletics club in his fraud scheme was a further example of his breach of trust bestowed on him as president.

“There’s absolutely no doubt about it that club had trust in you to do the right thing as well and you didn’t do that,” she said.

Ms Rosengren said Ferreira was “not someone who can be said to have lived a law-abiding life” after he was charged with the BP fraud in 2021.

The court was told Ferreira had also been sentenced for trying to obtain a Portuguese passport while on strict bail conditions for the fraud offences, which required him to surrender his Australian passport.

Ms Rosengren said Ferreira’s actions of pretending to be a registered physiotherapist called into question his rehabilitation prospects after sentencing.

“What we have here is two further instances of blatant dishonesty which one might think of hinders prospects for rehabilitation,” she said.

Ferreira will be eligible for parole in September 2025.