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CDPP v Bezhenar & Anor [2022] VCC 1569

Yevgeni Bezhenar was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 1 count of using a false Commonwealth document contrary to s 145.1(5) or the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 6 counts of making a false Commonwealth document contrary to s 144.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Alexander Bezhenar was sentenced following pleas of guilty to 2 counts of using a false Commonwealth document contrary to s 145.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code and 2 counts of making a false Commonwealth document contrary to s 144.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code.

Nature and Circumstances: Offenders commissioned and used false financial records to obtain bank loans. Offending, whilst intermittent, took place on a number of occasions over an extended period. Yevgeni offended on 7 occasions over 4 and a half years, whilst Alexander offended on 5 occasions over 4 years. Offending involved the making or use of multiple false documents. Offenders had duties as accountants to not be misleading and offending breached the trust placed in them by entities such as the ATO and financial institutions. Offenders gained personal financial advantages for themselves. There was ultimately no loss accorded to the financial institutions by reason of offending.

Delay: There was a significant delay between the search warrant being executed in 2017 and offenders being sentenced in late 2022. Offenders have had the weight of the matter and the uncertainty as to the possible consequence hanging over their heads since 2017. It is now 6 and a half years since Yevgeni’s last offence and nearly 7 years since Alexander’s last offence. Offenders have not further offended since and have totally rehabilitated themselves. Given the passage of time, offenders’ progress in rehabilitation and the impact that having these charges hanging over their heads has had, there is no basis for placing any weight on specific deterrence as a sentencing purpose in this case.

Parity: Offenders’ co-accused pleaded guilty to 3 counts of making a false Commonwealth document contrary to s 144.1(5) of the Commonwealth Criminal Code. Co-accused was sentenced to a 12-month community correction order with a condition of 200 hours of community work. There is little to distinguish offenders from co-accused insofar as their personal circumstances, however there are significant differences in the objective seriousness of the offending. While counts 1, 2, and 3 could not have been committed without co-accused’s ability to manipulate documents, their offending was at offenders’ behest and direction. Co-accused’s offending did not involve a breach of trust, they were not involved in as many incidents, and they did not gain the significant financial advantage as offenders did. Accordingly, there is a basis for substantial disparity in the sentences. There is also room for disparity between offenders on the basis that Yevgeny falls to be sentenced in respect of a greater number of counts and had a more central role.

Yevgeny Bezhenar sentenced to 10 months imprisonment to be released immediately on recognizance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 18 months. Alexander Bezhenar sentenced to 6 months imprisonment to be released immediately on recognizance of $1,000 to be of good behaviour for 18 months.
The CSD acknowledges Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as First Australians and recognises their culture, history, diversity and their deep connection to the land. We acknowledge that we are on the land of the traditional owners and pay respects to Elders past and present.

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