Exclusive by Patrick Avenell

MELBOURNE, VIC & SYDNEY, NSW: Clive Peeters CEO Greg Smith has paid tribute to his staff for their work investigating, and ultimately discovering, the source of the missing $20 million from the company’s accounts. At the same time, he has expressed his disappointment that a trusted member of his team could have perpetrated this act of alleged embezzlement.

Smith, who is an accountant by trade, said that these events cause one to question the faith you place in your senior staff. And while he has been let down by one individual, he had nothing but praise for the team who has brought about this resolution.

“No one likes these things to happen, and it’s disappointing when these things happen,” said Smith. “You have a lot of faith in staff members, particularly senior management people, but in this case our faith was misplaced.”

“We need to concentrate on the positives, which is getting control of the assets and to come as far as we have in a week, in terms of identifying this, stopping it, recovering control of all the assets and being in a position to fully, or at least almost fully, recover the total defalcation, I think we’ve made amazing headway in recovering a very difficult situation.”

Of the staff that have worked to uncover this misappropriation, and to ultimately bring about a situation that could result in Clive Peeters receiving a timely injection of almost $20 million cash, Smith was effusive in his appreciation.

“They’ve been magnificent. Since this first reared its head, our whole team has thrown themselves into this and have worked amazing hours: weekends, deep into the night. There’s just been a tremendous amount of support from our financial and senior management staff over the last 10 days, and you couldn’t be prouder of them in what they’ve managed to achieve.”

Ever the optimist, Smith said the upside of this unfortunate episode in Clive Peeters’ history is that he has seen just has dedicated and talented his staff is. He said that you see how good people are under pressure, and that their ability to achieve this outcome — perhaps the best any CEO could hope for given the magnitude of the alleged fraud — has been fantastic.

“We’re pleased with the outcome, we’re not pleased at all that this has happened,” he concluded.

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