11/08/2009 - 10:26

Rogue Clive Peeters worker stole $20m

11/08/2009 - 10:26

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Retailer Clive Peeters, which owns the Rick Hart stores, has started legal proceedings against a staff member over the theft of nearly $20 million that was used to buy and sell real estate.

Rogue Clive Peeters worker stole $20m

Retailer Clive Peeters, which owns the Rick Hart stores, has started legal proceedings against a staff member over the theft of nearly $20 million that was used to buy and sell real estate.

The ASX-listed company last month placed its shares in a trading halt after it discovered accounting discrepancies, which would increase its full-year operating loss to between $11 million and $12 million.

Previously, the company had forecast a loss of up to $5 million for the 2009 financial year.

In an update today, Clive Peeters said it identified the discrepancies in its payroll accounts and had started proceedings against a staff member and related parties.

Clive Peeters said the staff member had falsified entries in the accounts, transferred cash out of the business into external bank accounts and used the stolen money to buy and sell real estate.

The company said it is seeking to recover real property and other assets from the staff and related parties and has obtained orders from the Victorian Supreme Court to freeze the bank accounts 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," the company said.

"Clive Peeters is now effecting 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."

It added that shares will be in a trading halt until the accounting discrepancies are more fully investigated.

Shares in Clive Peeters last traded at 17 cents.

STANDING BY BUSINESS. TRUSTED BY BUSINESS.

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