The Malmsbury bank scandal gained Melbourne media attention in 1874 for the rare prosecution of a blatant white-collar crime.
The Bank of Victoria manager, George Everist, was charged and convicted of forging and uttering a cheque for 400 pounds with intent to defraud William Green of Lauriston.
A second charge of forging a cheque in the name of John Olive was withdrawn. Olive was Mary Gorey’s husband and couldn’t read or write, so forging a cheque in his name wouldn’t have been too difficult. Olive made his mark with an X on documents including his will and the inquest into the death of Patrick Donovan.
When Everist appeared in the Police Court for committal he tried to bluff his way out.
His counsel offered a theatrical defence and argued that no crime had occurred because Everist was authorised to access client accounts. Instead it was a mistake which could be rectified by repayment of any outstanding amount.
According to the Kyneton Observer, Everist’s lawyer said he did not wish to compare the bank to Shylock because Shylock did not get his pound of flesh, whereas the bank did. He hoped the Bench would not be party to sending a young man who made one false step to gaol.