A Darwin real estate agent accused of fraud warned a junior employee who would be "paid" for reporting his suspicions to the headquarters and that "not in the spirit of Aussie friendship", the court had heard.
- Chris Deutrom was tried for allegedly changing ad rebates to his personal account
- Mr Deutrom warned his colleague that he would "pay" to report suspected fraud, the court said
- The NT News general manager removed the ad agreement on Deutrom's request
Chris Deutrom was tried for allegedly changing advertising rebates from NT News and realestate.com.au to his personal account in 2015 and 2016 when he ran the Elders Darwin real estate office.
At that time, Matthew Pullman was a sales support officer at the agency and also cleaned the office after working hours.
Mr. Pullman notified the judge that he saw a discount from one of the advertisers being paid to the Deutrom company, Deutrom Pty Ltd's personal account, and that he reported this to the head office.
"That raises suspicion that something is not right," he said.
He told the jury Mr Deutrom pulled him aside several times because of "aggressive" conversations, after Elders' management began asking questions.
"There is a comment that I have to go back to England if I'm not happy," said Mr. Pullman.
"That I did not understand the spirit of Australian friendship.
"He basically said he would find out who told the headquarters and that they would pay for what they did."
Mr Pullman said Mr Deutrom repeatedly told him that he was incompetent and implied he would be punished.
"He went on to say that no one in the branch really liked me … and that he would let everyone know that I was someone who insulted him for this," he said.
"He repeated that he always complained about me, he said almost every day."
The advertising agreement was deleted at Deutrom's request
The court then heard evidence from NT News general manager Greg Thomson, who said he had a "business" relationship with Mr. Deutrom and that Deutrom's wife Helen was in the newspaper's senior management team.
Mr Thomson told the court Mr Deutrom asked him to remove the advertising agreement, which was in the name of Deutrom Pty Ltd.
"Deutrom told you that he was ready," prosecutor David Morters SC told Mr Thomson.
Mr Thomson agreed, and acknowledged that one of the two agreements was later deleted at the request of Mr Deutrom.
Greg Thomson said one of the two advertising agreements was removed at the request of Mr. Deutrom (ABC News: Felicity James)
"We deleted one to ensure that we have an Elder account," he said.
Mr Thomson initially agreed with Mr Morters' suggestion that Elder management had been in touch with NT News before Mr. Deutrom's request to remove the contract.
Under cross-examination by attorney Mr Deutrom Jon Tippet QC, Mr Thomson said he could not remember whether this was done before or after the Elder had anything to do with News NT.
"I don't remember whether the conversation took place before NT News contacted the Elder company," he said.
Mr. Tippett told the court every suggestion of "cover-up" was wrong.
Mr Deutrom pleaded not guilty to eight counts of obtaining benefits with fraud, which amounted to rebates worth $ 234,000.
The prosecution case has now been closed and the trial continues on Thursday.
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