Former Clive Peeters accountant, Sonya Causer, has been found guilty of stealing more than $19 million from electronics retailer, Clive Peeters. Causer will spend at least five years behind bars.
The Victorian Supreme Court delivered its verdict after Causer pleaded guilty to 24 counts of theft. She was sentenced by Justice Forest to eight years imprisonment with a non-parole period of five years, but the judge said she would have gotten ten years without the guilty plea.
The accounting discrepancies that started Clive Peeters’ collapse began in July 2009. The retailer then began legal proceedings against Causer in August last year, hoping to reclaim the stolen funds. But according to court documents, the company was only able to get $16.326m back from the sale of assets, leaving a shortfall of over $3m.
According to the defendant, the theft began as an effort to support two autistic children and a husband suffering from illness. At the peak of the embezzlement, she controlled 44 properties, bought luxury cars jewellery and Clive Peeters shares.
The theft tipped the company’s decline with administrators appointed to the once major retailer in May 2010. The 32 Clive Peeters outlets were purchased by rival chain, Harvey Norman and the branding is set to be maintained.