From surf to jail: Former Billabong boss gets eight years for massive fraud

In a sign that Australian courts may finally be getting tough on white collar crime, the former CEO of surfwear giant Billabong has been sentenced to eight years in prison for forging his then-wife’s signature for a $13.5 million loan.

Matthew Perrin was once considered the ‘golden boy’ of Queensland business circles – living in an $8 million mansion and worth $150 million  – but greed for more money was to bring about his ultimate downfall.

In the District Court in Brisbane today (Friday, January 27), Judge Julie Dick said the 44-year-old had shown no remorse or insight into his behaviour.

“You still blame your former wife and your former business partners. You still have not felt remorse or the realisation of what you have done,” Judge Dick told Mr Perrin as he stood before her in the dock.

Judge Dick said the kind of white-collar crimes committed by Perrin “strike at the heart of commercial integrity”.

“Businesses large and small need to operate with the trust of their clients,” she said.

Image: Matthew Perrin (ABC / AAP)

Mr Perrin had plead not guilty to forging his wife’s signature to secure a loan from the Commonwealth Bank in 2008, however a jury found him guilty just before Christmas last December.

The former high-flier turned bankrupt was sentenced over fraud and forgery charges to a total of eight years jail, but he could be eligible for release from prison in late 2020.

Mr Perrin’s defence lawyer, Nathan Hounsell, indicated outside court that an appeal against the sentence had already been lodged.

The ABC reports that Mr Perrin forged his wife’s signature in 2008 on bank documents to mortgage the family home, which was solely in his now ex-wife’s name, in order to pay off large debts that had accumulated from failed business deals.

He was under pressure to find finances after a string of business deals in China involving supermarket chain Global-Mart went bad and he was being pursued by creditors to the tune of millions of dollars.

Mr Perrin had originally become a multimillionaire by offloading a 49 per cent stake in Billabong in 2000, netting him and his wife $66 million.


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