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Former National Australia Bank employee, friend face fraud charges

A former National Australia Bank Ltd. employee and his friend are facing charges that they defrauded the bank of more than A$800,000 by exploiting the bank's "introducer" scheme, The Sydney Morning Herald reported March 19, citing court papers.

Prosecutors alleged that Andrew Matthews and his friend, Nicola D'Agostino, conspired together between January 2012 and June 2016 to exploit the bank's introducer scheme, which rewarded those who referred others to the bank's loan products. Matthews allegedly swindled the bank by having customers unknowingly sign documents that showed D'Agostino as the person who had referred them to the bank and thus was entitled to receive commissions from the bank.

Under the alleged arrangement between the two, Matthews took 90% of the commission fees paid by the bank to D'Agostino, in exchange for using his friend's name in loan documents. Matthews and D'Agostino face 49 charges of obtaining property by deception, conspiring to obtain property and dealing with property suspected of being proceeds of crime.

While D'Agostino, on March 19, pleaded not guilty to his charges and waived his right to a pre-trial hearing, Matthews will face a hearing in October to determine whether he stands trial, the publication noted. The charge sheets also allege that Matthews in 2016 had a Ferrari F430, which police allege was a proceed of crime.

The news report came days after the bank initiated an internal probe into its mortgage introducer program ahead of an inquiry by the financial services royal commission.