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Bankruptcy cheats clamped

Victoria Young
— 1 minute read
Improved detection and investigation of bankruptcy crimes has led to an increase in prosecutions.
A record number of Australians were prosecuted for bankruptcy-related offences this year by the Federal Government's Insolvency and Trustee Service Australia (ITSA).

The estimated value of alleged bankruptcy crimes was $20.7 million.

For 2006/07, in total 25,242 debtors became bankrupt and ITSA received more than 1110 complaints from bankruptcy trustees and creditors alleging criminal misconduct.

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This sparked 825 criminal investigations, which led to 220 people prosecuted in relation to 347 criminal charges.

Penalties ranged from good behaviour bonds to jail terms.

"The increase in prosecution numbers is not indicative of there being any more or any less criminal offending being committed by bankrupts," ITSA bankruptcy fraud investigation unit national manager Jeff Hanley told InvestorDaily

"The investigation and prosecution numbers purely reflect ITSA's increased capabilities in identifying bankruptcy crime, investigating the allegations and, in partnership with the Commonwealth Director of Public Prosecutions, prosecuting the alleged offenders to the fullest extent of the law."

Most bankrupts are people confronted with unmanageable debt, but some are serial bankrupts who try to exploit the law.

In total, 24 criminals were convicted and put behind bars.

The most common offence was failing to file a statement of affairs, which is a mandatory document detailing financial and personal affairs at the time of bankruptcy.

Other included filing false declarations, obtaining credit fraudulently and attempting to travel without obtaining permission from their trustee.

In March, consumers association Choice called for stiffer rules on finance brokers after figures showed a surge in the number of bankrupt individuals.

More than 6500 Australians filed for bankruptcy during the March quarter - up 9 per cent on the same period last year.

Choice cited interest rate rises, spiralling debt levels and aggressive lending practices for the spike.

According to information supplied by debtors to ITSA about the cause of their bankruptcy, 34 per cent said unemployment, 26 per cent cite excessive use of credit, 12 per cent said domestic discord and 11 per cent said ill-health.

 

Bankruptcy cheats clamped
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