Commonwealth Bank officer charged for stealing $3.75m to spend on cocaine, wine, property

A Commonwealth Bank loan officer who allegedly blew $3.75 million in stolen money on cocaine and a lavish lifestyle has been charged more than a decade after the bank failed to report his suspected crime spree.

Victoria Police’s Fraud and Extortion Squad has confirmed that George Vrettakos is facing three counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception over a fake loan scheme the former mobile lender allegedly orchestrated between 2008 and 2009.

George Vrettakos in 2018.Credit:Jason South

The police investigation began in mid-2018 after The Age and The Sydney Morning Herald revealed the Commonwealth Bank had failed to report the alleged illegal conduct to authorities. Instead the bank quietly sacked Mr Vrettakos and tried to force him to repay the money in 2010.

The bank made the controversial decision even though Mr Vrettakos had made admissions at the time to the CBA about the theft and offered to provide information implicating other members of staff.

“I’m not a rat and I was never gonna talk. But I’m not gonna sit there and cop it because, yes, I did wrong, but I wasn’t the only one. I was taught how to do it,” Mr Vrettakos said during a recorded interview with the bank's security department.

“If we want to talk seriously, there is a hundred witnesses for stuff that was being done, and stuff that was being consumed, stuff that was being drunk, stuff that was being snorted.”

After he was let go by the CBA in 2010, Mr Vrettakos went on to hold other jobs in the financial services sector with firms who were unaware of his past. He now works as a general manager at debt collection agency eCollect.

In the recorded interview with CBA investigators, the then 30-year-old described the ease with which the bank’s compliance systems were circumvented to generate false loan statistics and create fraudulent accounts linked to the property assets of real customers.

The money, he said, was blown in less than two years on a lavish lifestyle, paying off debts and a property purchase.

"We had beautiful lunches. We had beautiful wines. We snorted coke – a lot of it. We met a lot of girls. That’s what I got out of it. Stupid.”

The CBA did not report Mr Vrettakos’ alleged offending or apparently follow up on his claims about other misconduct inside the lending division in 2010.

Instead, the bank obtained a civil court order freezing Mr Vrettakos' assets and he was forced to sign an agreement where he agreed to pay back $2 million of the allegedly stolen funds. The CBA did not report Mr Vrettakos to law enforcement authorities even after he defaulted on the deal.

The alleged misconduct remained hidden until mid 2018 when the materials from the CBA’s internal investigation were leaked to The Age and Herald, prompting the bank to report the incident to police.

The CBA declined to comment because the matter is before the courts. It remains unclear whether the bank has investigated the allegations raised by Mr Vrettakos or referred any other current or former staff to police.

Mr Vrettakos declined to comment. He is due to appear in the Melbourne Magistrates’ Court in February.

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