Talking points

  • Andrew James Williamson, 45, the council’s former infrastructure manager, last month pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including obtaining property by deception.
  • He created dozens of false invoices to funnel a total of $460,870 to himself and an associate between September 2016 and April 2017.
  • Almost $200,000 was paid towards setting up the an organisation labelled the “Nepal project,” including taking out advertisements for donations, paying consultants, purchasing office equipment and buying tents to be used during a planned trip to Nepal.
  • The pair’s alleged scheme was uncovered after the council audited the purchasing history of the $3.5 million rejuvenation project on Wells Street in the heart of Frankston.

A former Frankston City Council manager who admitted to defrauding ratepayers of more than $460,000 used most of the money to fund a not-for-profit venture designed with his new girlfriend that connected remote Nepalese communities to small-scale hydroelectric stations.

Andrew James Williamson, 45, the council's former infrastructure manager, last month pleaded guilty to a number of charges, including obtaining property by deception and creating dozens of false invoices to funnel a total of $460,870 to himself and an associate between September 2016 and April 2017.

Former Frankston City Council manager of infrastructure Andrew Williamson.Credit:Facebook

Barrister Hugo Moodie told the Victorian County Court on Tuesday that Williamson kept $346,554 for himself, the majority of which went towards the establishment of a philanthropic project referred to as the "Nepal project".

The court heard that almost $200,000 was paid towards setting up the organisation, including taking out advertisements for donations, paying consultants, purchasing office equipment and buying tents to be used during a planned trip to Nepal.

Mr Moodie said Williamson also used roughly $56,000 to artificially inflate his wage from the council to make it appear he was earning more than he was to impress his girlfriend, who is now his former partner.

Williamson admitted that around $91,000 of the money he stole was also used to pay back his then-girlfriend for money she put into the Nepal project.

He also admitted to spending around $20,000 on renovations on his then-girlfriend’s house, restaurant meals and weekends away for the two of them.

Williamson, who started work at the council in April 2016 after moving from Queensland, used around $70,000 to pay off outstanding debts and credit card bills, and sunk $20,000 into a failed business venture.

"Mr Williamson had dual motivations," Mr Moodie told County Court judge George Georgiou.

"One motivation was to impress [his girlfriend], to shore up the false impression or story about himself as someone who had as large earning capacity as he did."

'One motivation was to impress [his girlfriend], to shore up the false impression or story about himself as someone who had as large earning capacity as he did.'

"The other motivation was self-enrichment," he said.

Williamson also admitted to falsifying invoices to electrician Aiden Magnik, sole proprietor of A Good Electrician and trying to dishonestly obtain a further $65,530 in council funds in May 2017.

The pair's alleged scheme was uncovered after the council audited the purchasing history of the $3.5 million rejuvenation project on Wells Street in the heart of Frankston.

The council reported irregularities to the Independent Broad-based Anti-corruption Commission, which investigated the council's procurement practices and last January charged Williamson with 79 offences and Mr Magnik with 78 offences.

Andrew James Williamson.Credit:Facebook

Mr Magnik, who allegedly pocketed $114,315.51 of Frankston City Council funds under the scheme, is expected to contest fraud charges at trial at a later date.

Investigators from IBAC said that at first Williamson had denied knowledge of the scheme before later admitting his role.

The Frankston City Council is seeking $460,832 in compensation from Williamson.

Mr Moodie also asked the court to consider reducing the restitution Williamson would have to pay, saying his client only received a portion of the funds stolen, that after the case had been reported in the media he had lost his job and he only had access to $9000.

Judge Georgiou will hand down Williamson’s sentence in September.

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