Hale faces new money woe

TEN years on from its last financial scandal exclusive Wembley Downs boys college, Hale School, has called in the police and auditors to investigate allegations of a funds deficit linked to its former director of finance and governance.

In January this year Hale School dismissed its key accounting executive after an unaccounted deficit of up to $20,000 in the school’s funds was discovered.

The director of finance and governance had held the role at the school for the past three and half years and controlled all finance, accounting, governance and compliance sectors.

Hale School principal Stuart Meade confirmed the school’s former director of finance and governance had been dismissed early this year after a number of anomalies related to various financial transactions were identified by school staff.

Mr Meade said the amounts of money involved in the transactions were considered to be significant by the school.

“Transactions involving a total of $18,520 were referred to police for further investigation,” he said.

Commercial Crime Detective Sergeant Don Heise said the matter was still under investigation and that an outcome was expected next month. He said the former director of finance and governance was the sole Hale School employee under police investigation.

Earlier this month, the former director, who had outside business interests, placed his boutique western suburbs personal training facility on the market for $120,000, walk-in-walk-out.

 It is understood the business had been struggling and that turnover had decreased significantly during the past two years.

When contacted by WA Business News the former director said he was not aware that an investigation was being conducted and that he had no idea what the investigation would relate to.

The former Hale executive – who WA Business News has decided not to name at this stage – denied any wrongdoing.

“As far as I can see, nothing I have done is inappropriate,” he said.

The former director said he had been experiencing difficulties at the school and had left his position at Hale School late last year to take another job.

The school confirmed that the executive had resigned before the allegations surfaced but said he was dismissed during his notice period.

However, the former Hale school employee said he had also been experiencing pressure from his private business interests.

“The past year I have been under considerable personal stress,” he said.

Following the discovery of the lost funds, Hale School commissioned Ernst & Young to perform an external audit and a number of recommendations have been made to the board concerning corporate governance issues.

Mr Meade said an Ernst and Young forensic accountant made a detailed examination of various school records and presented the school with a comprehensive report on its findings in February. The report was also was provided to the police.

“Hale School has taken action to modify some of our accounting procedures on the basis of the findings presented by Ernst and Young,” he said.

Hale School is no stranger to financial scandals, in 1994 the college became embroiled in two disastrous commercial loan transactions totalling $600,000, which sparked years of legal action to recover the funds.

The companies, Canada Investments Pty Ltd and Keymark Pty Ltd defaulted on the loans and the money was not recovered.

The school proceeded to launch an avalanche of writs against the two companies and the broker who pulled the deal together.

In 1996, in an unprecedented move the school lashed back at the board’s poor financial judgement and sued its former chairman,

In 1997 Hale School settled legal actions against the former board members and a law firm behind the deal.

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