Litany of woe from liquidator who stole

Amanda Young conceals her face as she leaves court.

A harrowing portrait of a problem-plagued life made worse by alleged workplace bullying and harassment unfolded yesterday as ex-liquidator Amanda Young testified ahead of her sentencing on charges of stealing tens of thousands of dollars while employed as a salaried partner at the Sydney office of insolvency firm Jirsch Sutherland.

Young, who in February pleaded guilty to two charges relating to the theft of almost $240,000 from various liquidation accounts between 2017 and 2018, told District Court judge Kara Shead that she had suffered from workplace bullying, harassment and sexual harassment during her almost 20 year career, which began when she was employed at Jirsch Sutherland in 2003.

“I was entitled to a safe working environment and I don’t believe I was provided with one,” Young told the court.

iNO does not suggest Young’s claims are true and the court made no findings in relation to the allegations.

Jirsch Sutherland managing partner Bradd Morelli, who did not attend yesterday’s hearing, denied Young’s allegations.

“Jirsch Sutherland maintains a safe and supportive workplace for all of its employees,” Morelli said yesterday, adding that the firm was concerned that the allegations as put to him by iNO were not an accurate reflection of what Young had told the court.

iNO encouraged Morelli to clarify his comment but received no reply by our publication deadline.

“Under remuneration is not financial hardship but it can be an indicia of living beyond one’s means”. Crown Prosecutor.

At times crying in the witness box, Young recounted a life of significant difficulty, starting with an incident when she was three years old which left her with burns to 30 per cent of her body.

A degenerative bone condition caused hip problems requiring major surgery and she told the court that she had been through three rounds of In Vitro Fertilisation (IVF) but a “chromosomal abnormality” prevented her from being able to conceive.

Troubles with weight gain had also seen her undergo gastric banding and bypass surgery. She said that despite these measures she had gained 40 kilograms.

It was, Young told the court, in the context of a life beset with such physical health challenges, that her mental health also suffered.

The court heard that it had been her who had discovered her sister’s body after her sibling committed suicide in 2004 and that she had also found her estranged husband in a similar state after he attempted suicide.

She suffered from diagnosed depression and Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome (PTSD), and laid some of the blame for the mental state she was in when she committed the crimes squarely with her former employer.

“I was isolated,” she told the court, adding that she was also subjected to sexual and other forms of harassment and had won a claim in the Fair Work Commission.

She said she had attempted to leave the firm and had attended interviews at other insolvency firms but said that her interviewers would call her brother, former Jirsch managing partner Sule Arnautovic who has since joined Hall Chadwick. This she indicated prevented her from being able to find another job in insolvency.

The court heard that her relations with her brothers had collapsed after her employment was terminated in December 2018 and that she had not spoken to them or seen her nephews and nieces since. Neither her siblings or her parents attended the court yesterday.

Young said that in early 2019 she spent three weeks being treated for depression at St John of God private mental hospital and completed a six-week course of out-patient therapy. The judge heard that Young had been receiving treatment for psychiatric illness at the time of her offending.

After her evidence Young’s barrister Hugh White called character witness Simon Gallant who told the court he had been completely shocked and surprised upon learning that her employment had been terminated for stealing.

The ERA Legal director said that in his own mind he had no doubt that there were external circumstances that influenced the conduct for which Young is to be sentenced and believed the offending was a “cry for help”.

The overwhelming picture presented by Young’s defence team was one of a woman who turned to crime whilst in a depressed state after being burdened by more than $100,000 in debts accrued by her estranged husband.

Young’s barrister argued vigorously against the imposition of a custodial sentence, suggesting his client would be denied adequate mental health care and appropriate nutrition to treat her various conditions if she was imprisoned.

Young said she was ashamed of what she had done and wholly remorseful, but as the Crown Prosecutor pointed out, many in the community suffer physical and mental health issues without resorting to criminality.

Nor was it justified, the Crown Prosecutor said, to suggest that the offending could be excused on the basis that Young, who earned $184,000 per annum as a salaried partner, had not been paid some monies she believed were owed to her, a position Young has since retracted.

“Under remuneration is not financial hardship,” the prosecutor told Judge Shead, “but it can be an indicia of living beyond one’s means”.

The prosecutor said Young’s offending was “premeditated and repeated”, though she did not challenge defence submissions describing the offences as unsophisticated in that the stolen funds, which the Jirsch Sutherland Sydney partnership restored to creditors from of its own resources, were simply transferred directly to bank accounts controlled by Young.

The judge, who commented that Young’s admissions in interviews with ASIC had not been “entirely frank” informed the court that she did not intend to pass sentence on the day and would take time to consider defence and prosecution submissions in respect of the penalties for the offences to which Young has pleaded guilty.

This was in part due to the offences falling under both the Corporations Act and the NSW Crimes Act. Young will return to the court for sentencing on July 9.

Her honour also sought details of the process by which the sums Young took from the various liquidation accounts were made good with a view to understanding if this was an initiative proposed by the defendant, or her former employer. Support INO’s continued chronicling of the insolvency sector.

Further reading:

Jirsch Partner Suspended Amid Fraud Investigation

Jirsch Partner Sacked Over $240k Misappropriation

20 Comments on "Litany of woe from liquidator who stole"

  1. James T Johnson | 28 May 2021 at 11:26 am | Reply

    She was in a position of trust as a registered liquidator and senior employee of the firm and stole money. There can be no excuse.

  2. Interesting and useful review of the evidence, thank you, which is not often accessible in sentencing matters. There are many non-custodial options nowadays but parity with sentences imposed on other similar offenders will be important.

  3. I suffered from depression for 4 years, way back, a very tough time. It was hard for me to leave the house and even harder to go to work, all I ever wanted to do was to get home and be alone .Maybe my depression was different, some depressions have ups and downs,in some cases people feed off adrenaline (the highs) and then burn out (the lows), if that is the case there would be a pattern over a period of time, not just the one case.Reading this looks to me like she is making way too many excuses for her actions. It also looks like she is very angry with her former employer.PS Maybe being caught caused the depression? Just my opinion.

  4. George Barnes | 28 May 2021 at 5:38 pm | Reply

    Amanda was the liquidator of my company.
    She is/was no shrinking violet, predated upon by others, can assure you.
    She appears to have stolen because she held inflated opinion of her worth and abilities.
    ALL about herself.
    In fact,I pitied those who worked with her

  5. Ironic that someone so devoid of empathy caught with their hand in the till, now pleads for clemency!! Everyone eventually bears the consequences of their actions, irrespective of how above the law they may think they are?

  6. There appears to be no mention of the apology she offered for bringing disrepute to the profession, to her colleagues, ASIC, ARITA, ICAA, family, friends etc. and her genuine remorse that she showed.

    No mention the monies were repaid almost
    Immediately so no financial loss was suffered by creditors or Jirsch Sutherland and that settlement was achieved not with delays by Ms Young.

    No mention of delays in bringing charges. She volunteered for an ASIC interview in early January 2019 and charges were no brought until April 2020.

    The fact that these charges could have been dealt with summarily and in the local court.

    Ms Younf DID NOT in my view make excuses for her behaviour she explained the context around which the offences occurred.

    Also what was failed to mention is she suffered from
    Complex PTSD as well as Major Depressive and Adjustment disorder that was exacerbated/retriggered by the type of work she was doing as well as what she believed was an unsupportive work environment with other factors you have mentioned here.

    You also failed to mention she had been seeing a psychologist since 2009 which started due to workplace issues. There were 3 independent psychiatrist and psychologist reports that all drew causal connections between her offending and her workplace being a cause.

    As to a fair work claim, I believe that the comment was “I was on a workers compensation claim for 12 months due to psychological injury as a result of my workplace”.

    In addition the cases tendered by the DPP as evidence for sentencing – the judge asked the DPPif they were relevant and the DPP admitted that none had similar circumstances to Ms Young’s offences in both quantum and circumstances surrounding her offending conduct.

    You did not mention that It was admitted in court that there is a gross imbalance of female to male Liquidators – in fact less than 10% are female. Interestingly, Michael Murray who commented on this thread wrote an article a while ago about there appearing to be little enticing women into
    The industry – despite what has occurred and despite Ms Young doing the wrong thing (to which she admitted), there is a complete lack of understanding of Mental Health in insolvency (as was established by ASIC, ARITA and AFSA when they introduced the insolvency Mental health awareness program. Which I may point out was not available prior to the offences being committed.

    Ms Young has had a tough life and my interest in psychology does suggest there are links to criminality when people are
    Repetitively triggered. Perhaps we should be kinder to each other???

  7. Just a shout out – Amanda was there for so long, why did this happen now? There must have been some serious deterioration in mental health. Out of curiosity, why have Amanda’s brothers not been in contact/supported her in 2.5years? Self preservation? I would have thought Family is more than a workplace….. this is just a sad state of affairs. toxic working environment and lack of familial support in and out of the workplace would be hard on anyone let alone someone with mental health issues. This woman has been let down by those around her. Does not excuse her actions, but how did people not see this deterioration? I wonder what is going unnoticed in other insolvency firms behind closed doors.

  8. Lord Jirsch | 30 May 2021 at 9:05 am | Reply

    Having some insight into the culture of JS the comments about workplace strife are not surprising. Whether that would justify every JS employee stealing and breaching their duties to creditors is another matter.

  9. Judge Jury and Executioner | 31 May 2021 at 8:05 am | Reply

    Crucifixion of Amanda appears to continue. Let’s hang her or put her in the stocks and throw rotten tomatoes at her. Should we implement sharia law and stone her to death? This lynch mob mentality needs to stop. She has owned up to her crimes. Was there a need to air all her personal circumstances and embarrass her about those too? Let her be.

    Interestingly however, there appears to be disgruntled former clients of hers that refer to her as “devoid of empathy” and “no shrinking violet” – how many male liquidators do you believe to be empathetic, or are they “remaining impartial, being professional and doing their jobs”.

    It appears to me from above comments she worked hard and for a long time seeking help to overcome personal and work stressors. Unfortunately that was unsuccessful.

    Women liquidators/women in senior positions do not last long at Jirsch – Ginette Muller (an insolvency veteran), Renee Di Carlo and Rebecca Hindson are prime examples of this. Inference can be taken that the culture is not supporting women in senior positions.

    Add being a woman, having complex psychological traumatic history, unsupportive family, lack of support and the harsh work that insolvency is into the mix and you have a cocktail for disaster.

    Enough is enough on the character assassination . The judge will decide her fate – it is not up to people in society who do not really know her to judge her. Have you walked in her shoes and experienced what she has? This is a snippet of her life. Show compassion when you don’t understand a situation rather than being hateful. This mob mentality is disgraceful!

    • I have not read anything on this site or even heard any scuttlebutt on the grapevine about expectations for Ms Young’s punishment. Your post itself is divisive and offensive for linking Sharia Islamic Law to capital punishment. You will find references to capital punishment in the Old Testament, and yet you chose to refer to Islam. Disgraceful.

    • Not should an associate attempt to defend her as the magistrate stated “ Attempts to bring gender and mental illness as an excuse for her criminality”!!

  10. Garry the Armchair Gender Expert | 31 May 2021 at 1:21 pm | Reply

    It is disappointing to see the offending of a liquidator dragged into a non-existent gender debate. There is one person on trial, not one gender.

  11. also anonymous | 2 June 2021 at 11:04 am | Reply

    Anonymous, a couple of directors have been recently charged,Amanda was the liquidator, I am not say she acted in a criminal way, but little was investigated in 3 years under her watch. It will be interesting to see if anything comes out of that.

  12. It was reported in the Fairfax press that “Describing her mental state at the time of the offending, Young said she was offered up for sex at conferences by colleagues, sexually harassed and bullied during her 15-year stint.”

    Let that sink in when you consider the firm had her brother, Sule, as the Managing Partner!

    I also find her defenders in the comments to be quite curious. Didn’t see any of this for the fall of David Leigh in similar circumstances…

  13. One thing this article has highlighted is the glaring discrepancies in pay between male and female IP’s!!
    Grossly unfair when you consider that her male colleagues were earning 3-6 times her earnings.

  14. Horrified Anonymous Person | 4 June 2021 at 7:45 am | Reply

    In court she mentioned:

    “one year I received a 66cent salary increase and when I asked the partner about it, he shrugged his shoulders.”

    “male managers in lesser positions were earning more than I was as a salaried female partner”.

    “HR told me to wear more revealing clothes like another senior female employee and use my sexuality as a female to win work – I should use it as an advantage”

    “I believe the media have been especially mean to/about me with regular almost monthly articles and depicting me in images of shame with head coverings etc”

    Just flabbergasted at the lack of equity.

    • None of what the defendant said in court was put to question or supported with independent corroboration.
      In those circumstances no one should unquestioningly accept such testimony.

  15. Cry me a River | 10 June 2021 at 1:47 pm | Reply

    Everyone has a sob story when they get caught, none of which have manifested themselves into issues before the crime was committed.

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