MORIAH College doubled the salary of its former finance manager Augustine “Gus” Nosti during the tenure of his employment, while he was secretly stealing more than $7 million from the school.
Court documents reveal the 58-year-old’s salary grew from $90,000 in 2004, when he began at the school, to $186,000 at the time of his resignation in 2019. By that time, he was in charge of the entire financial functioning of the college and had already misappropriated $7.4 million of school funds.
In Downing Centre Local Court last Thursday, Nosti pleaded guilty to five counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception. Each charge carries a maximum penalty of 10 years’ imprisonment.
When he was arrested in May last year, Nosti admitted the thefts to police, stating that early on he had access to $5000 without a second signatory and $15,000 on the credit card.
“[This] left me with plenty of opportunity to take advantage and I did,” Nosti told police.
An agreed statement of facts tendered to the court last week shows Nosti stole $3.4 million via 363 direct transfers to himself since December 2004.
He also stole almost $4 million by redirecting 39 GST tax refunds into his own bank accounts instead of the college’s between August 2015 and March 2019.
It was only when the school appointed Jami Klein as its new finance manager in 2019, following Nosti’s resignation, that alarm bells were raised.
In October that year, Klein telephoned the Australian Taxation Office (ATO) and obtained an activity log of changes to the bank accounts that the ATO was instructed to electronically transfer Moriah’s GST refunds to.
“Mr Klein checked the numbers for the accounts … and identified a match with three different bank accounts that were listed on the offender’s [Nosti’s] payslips,” court papers state.
Nosti told detectives from Waverley Police Station last year that he “had a fairly severe gambling problem and I was always trying to find money to fund the gambling”.
“At the end of the day, I found a loophole and I took advantage of it,” he said.
Nosti told police that he started to form criminal intent in the first year of his employment and “did not have this intent when he started the job”.
He estimates that he would put $10,000-$12,000 into the pokies each week, and that he had gambled away 95 per cent of the stolen money.
The AJN approached Nosti, who remains on bail, outside court but he refused to comment.
He has been committed for sentence and is due to appear before the District Court on April 16.
Moriah president Stephen Jankelowitz told The AJN: “The college is pleased to hear that Mr Nosti pleaded guilty, and that this matter is progressing towards a conclusion.”
The school declined to comment further.