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Dual fraud trial: Josie and Alvaro Gonzalez found guilty

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Former Dual Australia national claims manager Josie Gonzalez and her husband Alvaro have been found guilty today on 14 charges of cheating the underwriting agency out of $17.4 million.

The jury arrived at the unanimous verdict this afternoon after starting deliberations yesterday at the County Court of Victoria in Melbourne.

They were immediately taken into custody after the verdict was read out before Judge Paul Lacava. They are set to appear before him on August 28 for the plea hearing.

Josie clasped her palms over her mouth at times as the court heard the verdict while Alvaro, seated a few seats away, maintained a stoic expression throughout today’s proceedings.

The 14 counts against the couple alleged they obtained a financial advantage by deception between March 2011 and May 2013. The fraudulent activities took place several months after Josie took up Dual Australia CEO Damien Coates’ offer to join his company.

Prosecutor Andrew Grant told the court during the trial, which began on June 14, that they falsely billed Dual with over 400 invoices for legal work provided by Jaag Lawyers, a law firm they set up specifically to defraud the underwriter.

The couple denied the allegations and Josie, who chose to give evidence, told the court there was an agreement with Mr Coates for her husband to provide legal work when she joined Dual.

The couple has returned all the money under a civil deed reached with Dual in September 2013.

Mr Coates, who is now CEO of Dual Asia Pacific, told today that his company “has supported and co-operated throughout this justice process and are pleased it has reached a resolution”.

“When this incident occurred… we were able to fully recover all monies and there was no loss suffered by our clients or carriers. We received incredible support from the broking community at the time.”