Clive Peeters’ accountant faces 11 year jail term
Clive Peeters senior accountant Sonya Causer pleaded guilty to 24 counts of theft in the Victorian Supreme court yesterday amounting to some $20 million stolen from Clive Peeters accounts.
Sonya Causer faces an 11 year jail term if the prosecution in the case in the Victorian Supreme court gets its way, while Sonya’s defense team is arguing for a maximum three year jail term given the impact that a longer jail term for the 39 year old mother will have on her two autistic children.
Clive Peeters directors had hoped National Australia Bank would roll over long term debts totaling $38million and expand the company’s overdraft facility, but after sales collapsed the bank called in its loans to the company citing concerns over the $20 million hole in Clive Peeters balance sheet. Clive Peeters has been able to recover some $16 million from Causer, but the damage was done and Clive Peeters was put into administration earlier this year, before being sold to rival Harvey Norman for $55 million in June.
Sonya Causer had stolen nearly $20 million from the company to buy 44 properties, cars and some $17,000 worth of jewellery over 18 months with the company.
Fraud prevention expert Darryl Swindells of HLB Mann Judd Sydney has warned that frauds such as Sonya Carter’s with Clive Peeters are only the tip of the iceberg and that businesses big and small need to be aware of the risks.
“There are countless frauds taking place, in businesses of all shapes and sizes, that are small enough to go unnoticed,” he said.
“While most organisations believe they have controls in place over payments from bank accounts, often these are not working as well as they should because they have not been checked since they were set up,” he said.
Sonya Carter’s pre-sentence hearing in the Victorian Supreme court with Justice Jack Forrest continues today.