Mackenzie said the invoice claimed to be for “Project Eagle,” the internal NAB code word for Mike Baird’s recruitment process for the position of chief client officer in corporate and institutional banking.
“Some of you may know he was the former premier of NSW, and that was a high profile recruit,” the prosecutor said.
“You will hear evidence that the Project Eagle reference was specifically chosen by the defendant and Rogers because they knew no one would ask questions, and they were right.”
When a member of staff questioned the bill, the court heard Rogers said it was for ‘Mike’s onboarding work’ and that the money would be paid to others to secure Baird’s job .
Mackenzie said the “real recruiters” would tell the court “the recruiting cost about $60,000, not $2.2 million.”
She said Rosamond had ‘nothing to do with recruiting Mr Baird’ and was only asked to book a hotel room for a meeting between Baird and the bank’s chief executive in January 2017 .
“The only reason she knew the term Project Eagle was because Rogers told her,” Mackenzie said. “Put simply, that bill was fake, it was fake, and it was a fraud. He was aiming for a quick $2.2 million, and it worked.
She said the “long-running criminal conspiracy” between Rosamond and Rogers came to light after a whistleblower, whose identity remains unknown, sent a letter to NAB executives in December 2017.
In an opening statement, Rosamond’s attorney, Dr Anton Hughes, said it was undisputed that her client was the director of Human Group and as such she regularly sent invoices to NAB which were approved by Rogers.
He said it’s also undisputed that Rogers pleaded guilty to a number of charges related to his misconduct, the details of which overlap to some extent with the charges Rosamond faces.
However, he said, the central issue in the case will be whether Rosamond was party to a deal with Rogers to defraud the bank.
“[The] the interpretation that it was all Ms Rosamond’s idea is highly contested,” Hughes said. “The defense is likely to raise an alternative interpretation, that it was Ms. Rogers who took these benefits for herself.”
Hughes said the court “is not a court of morals” and that the jury should not use its verdict to send a message to the community “that cheating is a bad thing”.
“It’s not up to you to feel sorry for the bank’s customers, whose account maintenance fees were spent on the terrace of Rosemary Rogers, and to find someone to blame for that,” a- he declared.
“It is not for you to decide whether the NAB should have spent tens of millions of dollars each year on events for its leaders. Your job, in accordance with the oath you swore (…) is to decide the guilt, or otherwise, with respect to the counts.”
Hughes urged jurors to keep an open mind and avoid passing judgment on the case until they were “fully armed with all the facts and all the law”.
The trial continues.
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