Former Parramatta Eels boss Scott Seward given good behaviour bond for NRL fraud

Scott Seward has been handed a two-year good behaviour bond.  Photo: AAP
Scott Seward has been handed a two-year good behaviour bond. Photo: AAP

Former Parramatta Eels boss Scott Seward has been given a two-year good behaviour bond without conviction for his role in the NRL salary cap scandal.

Seward, 41, dishonestly obtained $220,000 from the Parramatta Leagues Club by arranging and authorising false invoices between November 2014 and mid-June 2015.

The Downing Centre Local Court heard the former chief executive's frauds were to cover debts owed to players by the football club which is funded by the Leagues Club.

""The offender's motive was not one of personal gain," Deputy Chief Magistrate Chris O'Brien said on Thursday.

"Rather (it was) to fix up what was a diabolical mess he had inherited from others."

An emotional Seward hugged defence lawyer John Sutton after the sentence was handed down.

Facts tendered to the court show Seward started receiving demands for promised cash payments from players and managers shortly after taking up the top job and was aware of $589,000-worth of outstanding payments by January 2014.

He tried to get help from the board of directors but was told to fix the problem or they would find someone who could.

Scott Seward, right, speaks with his lawyer outside court on Thursday.  Photo: AAP

Scott Seward, right, speaks with his lawyer outside court on Thursday. Photo: AAP

Mr O'Brien said he accepted Seward, who was the sole provider for his family, became "desperate" to fix the problems he'd inherited.

He said Seward was not qualified for the job and was entitled to feel let down by the board, which was identical for the Leagues and football clubs.

"Those board members had ... created the circumstance that they then pressured the offender to resolve," Mr O'Brien said.

Seward handed himself in to NRL officials and ended up pleading guilty to one count of dishonestly obtaining a financial advantage by deception at the earliest opportunity.

He also admitted to publishing false or misleading material to obtain advantage which was taken into account on sentencing.

The court heard Seward had been open with police who've said the crime probably wouldn't have come to light without his disclosures.

Mr Sutton had not asked for no conviction to be recorded but Mr O'Brien found such an approach was warranted given the "unique" nature of the case.

"Somewhat unusually I have determined in this matter to impose a lesser penalty than that suggested by the offender's solicitor," the magistrate said.

Seward was chief executive between September 2013 and June 2015 during which time the Eels were accused of systematically cheating the NRL salary cap through third-party payments.

They were stripped of 12 competition points and fined $750,000 in 2016.

The club's former football manager, Jason Irvine, has been charged with fraud offences allegedly connected to Seward's crime.

- With AAP


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