Justin Hemmes’ former Merivale colleague Joel Cheeseman admits $230,000 fraud against Merivale

Image above: Left: Joel Cheeseman (Image (c) Joel Cheeseman / LinkedIn) and right, Merivale’s Justin Hemmes

Merivale’s former construction lead Joel Cheeseman, 30,  appeared in front of deputy registrar N Hoffmann at Downing Centre Local Court in Sydney yesterday, 29 May, where he plead guilty to a charge of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage or causing disadvantage by deception.

Police allege Cheeseman authorised fraudulent invoices amounting to nearly $230,000 to be paid by Merivale to his bank account. Five separate instances were alleged to have taken place between August 2017 and October 2018.

Cheeseman’s lawyer, Jason Hanna, sought an adjournment in the case to 21 August so a mental health assessment of Cheeseman could be undertaken.

In a related civil case brought by Merivale and heard by Justice M Pembroke on 23 May at NSW Supreme Court, Cheeseman agreed to pay $229,811 to Merivale, the same amount alleged in the fraud criminal case, though Cheeseman made no admissions and the judge did not make any decisions about liability.

Earlier in May Cheeseman had been the focus of a NSW Police investigation by Sydney City Area Command into fraud allegations and was on Wednesday 8 May charged at Day Street Police Station in Sydney’s Haymarket with dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception, granted conditional bail and the 29 May court appearance date was set.

According to Cheeseman’s LinkedIn profile – now removed –  Cheeseman was a Merivale employee from August 2015, joining as Group Facilities Manager and in June last year took on the role of Construction Project Manager where, according to Cheeseman’s LinkedIn profile, he “currently oversee[s] and manage[s] all construction for Merivale.”

Cheeseman was until recently considered a close associate of Hemmes and Merivale, but Merivale’s legal firm Johnson Winter & Slattery on 2 May successfully applied to the Supreme Court to freeze $300,000 of Cheeseman’s assets. The group also sought access to three of Cheeseman’s bank accounts between August 2015 and May 2019.

Cheeseman remains on bail until his next court appearance.

A spokesperson for Merivale declined to comment when contacted by Australian Hotelier.

Australian Hotelier has been unable to reach Joel Cheeseman for comment.

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