By Patrick Avenell

MELBOURNE, VIC: Should she be convicted of stealing almost $20 million, Sonya Causer should not be shown mercy, according to Clive Peeters MD Greg Smith, who said white collar crimes should not incur softer sentences.

Speaking to shortly after his former employee Sonya Causer was charged with 75 counts of theft, Smith said if Causer is convicted on any of these charges, she should not receive a lesser sentence due to the white collar nature of this type of theft.

“I think the courts will make a proper assessment of what this deserves,” said Smith.

“If she’s found guilty then I’m sure she’ll get the appropriate sentence. That’s all beyond our control, but I’ll be watching with great interest.”

Smith said that in the event of a conviction, a gaol sentence would not be incommensurate.

“I think it’s fairly major fraud, let’s put it that way, so it’s a major amount of money and I would have thought that if she’s found guilty then there probably will be a gaol sentence, but that’s my personal opinion.”

Causer is due to make her first scheduled court appearance tomorrow morning, Friday 18 December 2010. The charges relate to $19.4 million that was allegedly stolen from Clive Peeters over a long period, with the funds used to buy property and other major assets. Smith said yesterday that Clive Peeters is close to recovering the full amount through asset liquidation and insurance claims.