Clive Peeters executives are still insisting that they have not given a former payroll manager a get out of jail card in exchange for the return of millions of dollar of assets purchased with money stolen from the Melbourne based retailer.
While there was ample evidence for retailer Clive Peeters to obtain Supreme Court orders for the recovery of close to $20 Million dollars worth property that the retailer alleged was purchased with money stolen from the Company it now appears that the Victorian Police are struggling to put a case together to formally charge the Companies former paymaster, Sonia Causer.
Several months on from when the alleged theft was discovered, the Company is still claiming that no deal was done with Causer to deny police access to evidence that could be used in a criminal case against the former employee who over a two year period was able to transfer millions of dollars out of the Company due to poor financial management by the retailer.
Now the Company is claiming that it was corporate upheaval and confusion and not a lack of financial audit processes that created the environment for Causer to steal $19.4 million.
At the annual shareholders meeting CEO Greg Smith said ”There was so much structural change going on in our business, that it created an environment where we, did not get an opportunity to create a normal year-on-year comparison.”
However he failed to explain how this the theft was not detected over a two year period with Causer systematically creating bogus employees who were paid millions in salaries straight into Causer managed accounts.
Last financial year Clive Peeters made a $9 million post-tax loss with a lack of cash flow caused by the Causer theft, blamed for some of the Companies problems.
Causer who has since disappeared purchased 41 suburban houses in Melbourne’s outer east, Tasmania and Queensland. She also bought 389,314 shares in Clive Peeters, new cars and household appliances.
At the shareholder meeting Clive Peeters said that they had sold 31 of these houses, but would not profit from the sale process because of sales fees and legal costs associated with the sale of the properties” Smith said.
Smith told shareholders “It is now apparent to us all that there were mitigating circumstances for our Company’s underperformance, and that the major cash misappropriations over FY 2008 and FY 2009, only discovered in August 2009, have been the major cause of the Company’s profit decline over this year, and in the latter part of FY 2008. It is distressing that the business has been put under unnecessary strain at every level of its operations over the last two years because of these misappropriation events.
Without this financial shock, I am confident our Company would have at least matched industry growth over FY 2009, as it has a strong track record of doing. The success that the Company has achieved in speedily recovering the properties acquired with misappropriated funds, and retrieving the most challenging of situations since the discovery of the cash misappropriations, is a lesson in never giving up”.
He added “The Company will now begin to put the events of FY 2009 behind it, and will concentrate on the future. Clive Peeters looks forward to receiving the material cash injections from the sell down of the assets which were bought by the employee out of the cash misappropriations and to a return to profitability and growth over FY 2010 and beyond”.