There are a number of serious offences under the Bankruptcy Act 1966 (Cth) for which a bankrupt person could be prosecuted. The Act has been strengthened in recent years to ensure that there are significant penalties for bankrupts who attempt to dispose of or conceal property in an effort to defeat creditors. The time period in which such actions are viewed as criminal often precedes the commencement date of bankruptcy.
Examples of offences under the Act include:
- Concealment of property [s 263] — maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
- Giving a false affidavit [s 263A] — maximum penalty of $200 or 6 months imprisonment for a summary offence; for an indictable offence the maximum penalty is 4 years imprisonment.
- Failure of person to attend court [s 264A] - maximum penalty of 6 months imprisonment.
- Failure to disclose property [s 265(1)] — this includes the disposition of property for a period of 2 years immediately preceding the date the bankruptcy commenced — maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment.
- Making false representations or fraud on creditors [Bankruptcy Act 1966 s 265(3)] — maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
- Concealing property after bankruptcy commenced — [s 265(4)] — maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment.
- Making a false declaration [s 267] — maximum penalty of 12 months imprisonment.
- Obtaining credit of $3 000 or more without disclosing debt agreement or bankruptcy [s 269] — maximum penalty of 3 years imprisonment.
- Gambling or hazardous speculations [s 271] — if a bankrupt materially contributes to or increases their insolvency due to gambling or hazardous speculations even 2 years prior to their bankruptcy they may be guilty of this offence. The behaviour must have been rash or hazardous in light of their financial position at the time and any speculations made must not have been connected to their trade or business — maximum penalty of 1 year imprisonment.
- Leaving Australia with intent to defeat creditors within 6 months before bankruptcy [s 272] — maximum penalty of 5 years imprisonment.
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