A former Coles executive has pleaded guilty to a “strangely unsophisticated” operation that saw him brazenly steal millions from the company.
Aaron Baslangic, a former Coles online finance executive has pleaded guilty to deception as he faces the Melbourne Magistrate Court for stealing $1.9 million from the retailer in 2019.
According to The Guardian, Baslangic could authorise payments up to $75,000 in his role and made 14 illegal payments ranging from $10,000 to more than $400,000 in 2019 to fictitious businesses with a bank account in his name while others were sent to the ATO which were then redirected into eight different personal bank accounts. He also transferred money to his real estate agent, a BMW dealership to pay off his leased car, and spent around $200,000 shopping at luxury retailers. He made no attempt to cover his tracks other than cursorily altering emails to appear his supervisor was approving transactions when payments were above his approved limit.
He pleaded guilty to two charges of obtaining property by deception, financial advantage by deception and making a false document.
The judge deemed Baslangic’s conduct as “strangely unsophisticated, bizarre and inexplicable.”
“Brazen, that’s one word for it. The other word is incredibly stupid,” Judge Duncan Allen said, even ordering the defendant to undergo psychiatric due to the inexplicably “stupid” nature of the crime, which he said, “a year 12 student could have worked out where this money was going.”
Baslangic has already paid back Coles more than $1.3m and is set to reappear in court in August when it is likely for the sentencing to take place.
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