By Patrick Avenell

MELBOURNE, VIC & SYDNEY, NSW: The chairman of Clive Peeters, Brian Pollock, has used the listed retail group’s annual report to praise managing director Greg Smith for his handling of the $19.4 million misappropriation ordeal.

In late July and early August this year, Clive Peeters trading was suspended and an investigation launched into the alleged embezzlement of almost $20 million for the company’s coffers. An employee was discovered as the presumed culprit, but not before the company was subjected to media speculation and the ignominy of having to report the loss.

Today, Clive Peeters posted a more encouraging report to the ASX, with the retailer optimistic about the future. Brian Pollock was especially effusive when discussing Greg Smith’s handling of the misappropriation.

“Special thanks to our managing director, Greg Smith,” wrote Pollock. “Greg’s ability to achieve such a speedy and effective resolution to the cash misappropriation has been truly amazing. His tireless efforts and intimate knowledge of our business have made this recovery outcome possible.”

Pollock also thanked the Board for its work, writing that it is in the hard times that a person’s ability is truly tested.

“It could be argued that the true test of a Board’s strength is managing effectively when things do not entirely go to plan, and in that regard our Board has done an outstanding job this year.”

For the future, Pollock wrote that he was looking forward to Clive Peeters again trading profitably.

“Clive Peeters looks forward to receiving the material cash injections from the sell down of the assets which were bought by the employee out of the cash misappropriations, and to a return to profitability growth over FY 2010 and beyond.”