Fake physio jailed for $400k fraud, money laundering

After defrauding a service station of about $400,000 and laundering money - some belonging to a sports club - Carlos Adelino Henrique Ferreira pretended to be a qualified physiotherapist.

The now 59-year-old failed to follow cash management systems while a manager at Brisbane's BP Milton and instructed staff to do the same for more than four years from 2015.

He told staff to stop reconciling tills and cash deposits, and Ferreira failed to put money into a secure safe, against company policy.

Instead employees were told to put money into a second safe to which only Ferreira and another manager had access, a Brisbane court has heard.

Ferreira hid the fraud totalling more than $400,000 by generating inaccurate reports that reflected the tills were balanced and all transactions were accounted.

He also fraudulently obtained about $10,000 through the sales of cigarettes by recording 10c sales instead of the correct amount for more than four years.

The money he obtained fraudulently was deposited into his own bank accounts at an automatic teller machine near the service station.

Over about five years Ferreira laundered nearly $200,000 including money stolen from the service station and about $10,000 from the Brisbane Athletic Football Club where he was president.

The service station fraud was discovered when Ferreira went on leave.

After his arrest for fraud, Ferreira twice breached his bail conditions, including by applying for a Portuguese passport.

In August he admitted falsely claiming to be qualified to practise as a physiotherapist in Caboolture Magistrates Court.

He used fake documents to make the claim he was qualified to lease a room at a Burpengary health clinic, also advertising his services online.

Ferreira's lack of qualifications was discovered before he saw patients, the Australian Health Practitioner Regulation Agency said earlier.

Ferreira, then 18, fled Portugal with his family partly due to his father’s political connections and went on to serve as the president of the Portuguese Club for 12 years, Brisbane District Court was told on Tuesday.

He suffered from depression especially due to the breakdown of his marriage and experienced financial pressure.

Ferreira had no criminal history before his arrest for fraud but had not been law abiding since, Judge Jennifer Rosengren said.

“It significantly calls into question what your prospects of rehabilitation may look like moving forward,” she told Ferreira during sentencing.

The sophisticated, protracted offending involved money that was far more than what could be regarded as for reasonable living expenses and Ferreira’s financial commitments.

“It can only be described as a self-interested gross breach of trust by you.”

Ferreira, who pleaded guilty, was given a head sentence of six years behind bars.

Judge Rosengren ordered he be eligible for parole in September 2025 after serving 20 months.

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