Rogue operator fined and banned by ILGA
The Independent Liquor and Gaming Authority (ILGA) has fined a former bottleshop manager $40,000 and banned him from holding a licence for 10 years over a string of offences including selling stolen alcohol.
Mr Sherin Sylvester, the former approved manager of Glenfield Cellars, was subject to a complaint by NSW Police, which Sylvester ultimately did not contest.
The Authority accepted the police investigation into a strong of armed robberies throughout the Sydney metropolitan area, which among other outlets including “stealing large amounts of alcohol from retail liquor stores, namely BWS and Dan Murphy’s”.
In its findings relating to the case, the Authority accepted the police evidence of phone calls between Sylvester and the perpetrators of the armed robberies, Mr Shovikash Chandra and Mr Kien Ly.
The findings state: “The Authority accepts, as alleged by the Complainant, that between 13 January 2015 and 9 February 2015 Chandra and Ly contacted Mr Sylvester by telephone and made arrangements for Mr Sylvester to purchase the stolen liquor for less than half of its recommended retail value. Police have evidence of 18 occasions where Chandra and Ly attended Glenfield Cellars, Mr Sylvester’s home address and the address of a Glenfield Cellars employee in Minto, to sell the stolen liquor to Mr Sylvester or other members of his staff. CCTV and telephone intercepts obtained by investigators revealed that Glenfield Cellars staff, acting on instruction from Mr Sylvester, received the stolen property at the Premises and other locations on multiple occasions.
“The Authority is further satisfied, as alleged by the Complainant, that on 10 February 2015 Chandra and Ly were arrested for stealing six (6) cases of Chivas Regal and a case of Johnny Walker Black Label from Dan Murphy’s, Hurstville. Mr Ly appeared at Burwood Local Court on 17 June 2016 where he was convicted of numerous stealing offences and sentenced to 9 months imprisonment, suspended on entering into a bond pursuant to section 9 of the Crimes (Sentencing Procedure) Act 1999 for a period of 12 months and accepting the supervision of probation and parole. Mr Chandra appeared at Burwood Local Court on 8 December 2015 where he was convicted and sentenced to 20 months imprisonment.
“The Authority is also satisfied that Police examined the CCTV system obtained from Glenfield Cellars which recorded footage from 23 January 2015 to 13 February 2015, which captured the actions of Mr Chandra, Mr Ly and other persons attending the Premises to sell stolen alcohol to Mr Sylvester. The stolen alcohol purchased from Chandra and Ly was not recorded on the X-reports produced by the cash register installed at Glenfield Cellars, nor did Mr Sylvester produce any receipts for any liquor seized from Glenfield Cellars during the Court proceedings.
“Whether a liquor licence has been exercised contrary to the public interest involves an assessment of the history of the licence during the tenure of the relevant licensee or approved manager. The Authority is satisfied, on the basis of the above findings, that while acting as approved manager, Mr Sylvester engaged in a repeated pattern of serious criminal offending involving the receipt of stolen liquor products on the Premises to the value of around $48,000.00. That conduct has been proven to the criminal standard and there is no material before the Authority to find otherwise, or to provide circumstances of mitigation or context for that personal misconduct.”
In accepting these charges, plus Sylvester allowing a can of beer bought in the store to be consumed on the premises the ILGA ruled that Sylvester was not a fit and proper person to hold a licence and that the continuation of the licence was not in the public interest.
In handing down its sentence the ILGA said: “A monetary penalty issued under Part 9 of the Act serves a protective rather than punitive purpose. Having regard to this broader purpose, and the seriousness of the matters found against him, the Authority is satisfied that a monetary penalty at the upper end of the scale is appropriate in this case.
“The Court order that Mr Sylvester pay compensation in the sum of $40,000 illustrates the financial value of the crime perpetrated by Mr Sylvester. It underscores the scale of the threat posed to the industry by permitting a person who is willing to engage in this level of dishonesty, with respect to the handling of liquor products to have a regulated role in the liquor industry.
“The Authority accepts Mr Sylvester’s submission that he has paid a substantial price for his criminal conduct. Mr Sylvester was issued with a 12 months intensive correction order that has only recently expired during June 2017. He was also ordered to pay $40,000 in compensation to Woolworths Pty Ltd and has had $80,000.00 worth of goods seized by Police during their investigation. These are penal consequences flowing from his criminal conduct.
“In determining this Complaint, the Authority is concerned with protecting the wider liquor industry and the community in New South Wales. The Complainant has proposed a period of disqualification of five years but looking forward, the Authority finds that the protection of the public interest will be better served by a ten-year period of disqualification under section 141(2)(f) of the Act. The Authority considers that Mr Sylvester should be disqualified from holding a licence, acting as approved manager or being a close associate of a business conducted under a licence, as all of these positions involve significant control or influence over a licenced business.”
Sylvester has 28 days to appeal the ILGA’s findings and penalties, the licence for the store has been passed to Dhingra Enterprises, which now controls the licence and the business conducted in relation to it.