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Australian retailer Clive Peeters has admitted that millions of dollars has been stolen from the Company after audits revealed accounting discrepancies in their payroll accounts. The money was used to buy real estate by a former employee.

First tipped by ChannelNews the payroll thefts, resulted in the Company calling a trading halt as the matter was investigated by external auditors.   

In a statement issued to the stock exchange late today the Company said “On Thursday 30 July 2009 Clive Peeters identified discrepancies in its payroll accounts. As a consequence, Clive Peeters commenced legal proceedings against a staff member and related parties claiming the staff member:

· falsified entries in Clive Peeters’ payroll accounts,  transferred cash out of the business of Clive Peeters into external bank accounts, including a personal bank account and bank accounts held with related parties and used monies taken from Clive Peeters to buy and sell real estate.

Clive Peeters claims that they are seeking to recover real property and other assets from the staff member and related parties. The staff member and related parties are co-operating with Clive Peeters.

Court orders relating to the transfer of assets to Clive Peeters and freezing of bank accounts were obtained from the Victorian Supreme Court by Clive Peeters on 6 August 2009 with the consent of the staff member.

At the time the Court orders were sought by Clive Peeters, properties with a purchase price of approximately $19.9m had been purchased by the staff member or related parties substantially using monies taken from Clive Peeters. Clive Peeters is now affecting the transfer of those properties into Clive Peeters’ name. The cash reserves of Clive Peeters will ultimately be strengthened as a result of these transfers.

Clive Peeters expects the voluntary suspension of its shares from quotation will remain in place until the accounting discrepancies are more fully investigated. Clive

Peeters does not expect that these matters will delay the announcement of the FY09 audited results due at the end of August 2009.

The legal proceedings against the staff member and related parties are ongoing.

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