A Laverton motel owner has been found guilty of illegally lending money to Aboriginal people at interest rates of up to 50 per cent.
During the trial, the Kalgoorlie Magistrates Court heard Sam Tomarchio took his clients’ bank cards and PINs in order to recoup the money.
Tomarchio told the court he was not operating a money lending business and he never believed helping starving human beings would see him in the situation he was now facing.
In handing down his verdict, Magistrate Greg Benn said some of Tomarchio’s evidence was evasive, absurd and contradictory.
The magistrate described the operation as sinister and said Tomarchio had shown no remorse for his actions.
Tomarchio was fined $9,000 and ordered to pay more than $24,000 in court costs; the maximum penalty for the offence is $10,000.
The man said little as he left the court house.
“$34,000 lighter, that’s how I feel,” he said.
The Commissioner for Consumer Protection Anne Driscoll, who brought the criminal prosecution, has welcomed the outcome.
Gary Newcombe from Consumer Protection says the case is of national significance.
“It’s an important case really Australia wide, in a sense of taking action against people who are targeting aboriginal consumers,” he said.