Sonya Denise Causer
Address: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Date: 19 August 2010
Sonya Denise Causer pleaded guilty to 24 counts of theft. The offence occurred from July 2007 to July 2009.
Causer misappropriated $19,365,768 from her employer Clive Peeters Ltd, of which $16,326,662 has been recovered.
Her offending commenced in July 2007 and ceased in July 2009, when her activities were detected by a routine audit.
In April 2007 her duties with Clive Peeters were expanded, giving her responsibility for the payroll system, which included authorisation of salary payments to employees, payment of superannuation contributions and the remittance of group tax and payroll tax to the Australian Taxation Office and State Revenue Offices.
Between 11 July 2007 and 20 July 2009 she recorded in the company’s electronic accounts 90 withdrawals involving 125 individual payments to eight bank accounts; $19.365 million in total was stolen by her under the guise of payroll related payments.
In late July 2009 she controlled some 44 properties which had been purchased with Clive Peeters’ funds. These were acquired by her, primarily as a result of negotiations over the internet. None were purchased at auction. Many of the properties were then rented out through agents engaged by her.
In addition to the properties, she also purchased a motor vehicle for $110,000 for herself, a motor vehicle and a motorbike for her husband (valued at $80,000 and $20,000 respectively), jewellery (valued at $17,000) and some Clive Peeters shares.
On 4 August 2009 she admitted using the company’s funds to purchase real estate and explained the manner by which she carried out the fraud.
Justice Forrest said that the magnitude of the theft is the largest theft perpetrated by a person in a position of trust in the history of Melbourne. He added that Causer grossly abused the trust of her employer and the loss of the funds on Clive Peeters might have played a part in its ultimate collapse.
Causer was sentenced to 8 years’ imprisonment with a non-parole period of 5 years.