Jason Dougherty

Jury in Kleenmaid fraud case begin deliberations today

AS JURORS prepare to deliberate after almost four months in one of Queensland's longest trials, they have been told a Kleenmaid director "gambled with the bank's money" while insolvent.

Former Kleenmaid director Bradley Wendell Young, 44, pleaded not guilty in Brisbane District Court in April to defrauding Westpac through a $13-million loan and not guilty to operating the Sunshine Coast based whitegoods company while it was insolvent.

The jury is expected to begin deliberations this morning to reach a verdict.

Today will be the 70th day the jury has listened to evidence in the fraud trial, which is just shy of the state's longest trial - triple murderer Max Sica.

The focus of the ASIC investigation that led to this trial centred on the solvency of the Kleenmaid Group and a corporate restructure undertaken in September 2007.

ASIC alleges the Kleenmaid Group continued to trade despite becoming insolvent from March 2008.

The court has heard during the trial that Kleenmaid owed Westpac Bank about $28 million when it collapsed

In his closing remarks, Crown prosecutor Stephen Keim told the jury the Kleenmaid group was already more than $20 million in debt when it sought more money from Westpac.

He said the fact Kleenmaid's directors asked Westpac for $6.4 million just seven months after the bank had advanced them $13 million was telling.

"It's almost a confession itself of a chronic inability to meet the costs of running the business," he said.

"Of course, if Mr Young is helping put this letter together and making the application, then he knows how bad the situation is.

"The Crown says that you would be satisfied that when Mr Young approved the sending of this letter, he knew Edis was unable to pay its debts.

"He was prepared to gamble with the bank's money on the unlikely possibility that more cash might turn things around."

Mr Keim said the letter suggested sections of the Kleenmaid group were fine, that they were not gravely interdependent on each other.

He said by pointing to specific problems that necessitated the cash, Mr Young was saying the Orchard Group arm was "okay" and that spare parts arm Edis's cash flow problems were "not endemic or chronic".

"He had knowledge these representations were untrue," he said.

"It was chronic, it was endemic, it went back a long way, it was likely to continue in the future."

"The Crown says the inherent dishonesty in these two counts is seeking and obtaining a loan when he knew Edis was insolvent and he knew there were real problems, probably no chance, the bank was going to be repaid.

"There's a specific act of dishonesty in saying 'Well we've got these short-term problems, we just need a little bit of money to get through this gap'."

Judge Brad Farr told the jury they should dismiss any sympathy they might have for or against Mr Young.

He said emotion should not play any part in deciding whether Mr Young was guilty of fraud or insolvent trading. - ARM NEWSDESK


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