Accountant to music stars charged with swindling $2.2m

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A music industry accountant has been charged with 22 offences over the alleged embezzlement of $2.2 million from several prominent musicians and festival promoters, including Grammy-awarding winning artist Gotye, electronic dance band Peking Duk and organisers of the Laneway Festival.

Damien Luscombe, a former partner and business manager at White Sky Music accounting services, was charged on Wednesday afternoon with several counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception and using false documents.

Damien Luscombe, who has been accused of embezzling more than $1 million from prominent musicians including Peking Duk

The alleged victims were all clients of White Sky, which suspended Luscombe in October last year after discovering a series of discrepancies in the accounts of several major clients.

The firm, which manages the finances of more than 500 artists, promoters, music festivals and record labels, called in external auditors and provided a statement to Victoria Police’s fraud squad.

A Victoria Police spokeswoman confirmed that a 38-year-old South Morang man had been charged with a range of offences, including obtaining financial advantage by deception and making false documents.

“Detectives from the Financial Crime Squad have charged a man following an investigation into allegations of fraud relating to the management of a Collingwood-based business between 2011-2022,” the spokeswoman said.

Gotye, the Laneway Festival and Peking Duk.Credit:

Several sources familiar with the investigation claimed Luscombe had used the allegedly embezzled funds to settle gambling debts. He is due to face the Melbourne Magistrates Court for a mention hearing on June 1.

Luscombe has been approached for comment.

According to a profile on the White Sky website, which has been deleted, Luscombe joined the business in 2010 and had “hands-on experience with every element of the services we offer and become an expert in most”.

“His innate understanding of the challenges of running a small business makes him a client favourite,” the profile said. “His process-driven work ethic and attention to detail make him a valued member of the team.”

White Sky has been approached for comment. Management for Peking Duk and Gotye have also been contacted by The Age. The organisers of the Laneway Festival declined to comment.

In an ironic twist, Luscombe gave key evidence at the trial of Guy Sebastian’s former manager Titus Day, who was found guilty by a jury and convicted of 34 charges, including the embezzlement of more than $620,000 from the former Australian Idol winner. Day was sentenced to at least two years and six months in prison.

Luscombe told the NSW District Court that Sebastian had hired White Sky Music to manage his financial affairs in 2015.

He said either Sebastian or Day’s company 6 Degrees had provided authorisation to White Sky in order for payments to be made.

“If there was anything deducted for the purpose of commission we would generally ask Titus to provide where that came from,” Luscombe told the court.

“The problem that we had here was we were suggesting what the commission may look like based on our figures. But it certainly didn’t match the money that hit Guy’s bank account,” he said on June 2.

The Age does not suggest that Luscombe was involved in the embezzlement of performance, royalty and ambassador fees from Sebastian.

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