Industry insiders, who wish to remain anonymous, are pointing to last year’s misappropriation of $20 million in funds as the smoking gun that today forced Clive Peeters into voluntary administration.
In August last year, Sonya Causer, then payroll manager of troubled whitegoods and electrical retailer, admitted she used the stolen funds to go on an 18 month spending spree which saw her buy, among other big ticket items, more than 40 properties all over Australia.
The embezzled funds ultimately totalled more than the company’s pre-tax earnings of $17.3 million from the previous 2008 financial year. Causer finally admitted the fraud after being confronted by Clive Peeters managing director, Greg Smith.
The theft proved a crippling blow to the already struggling retailer.
Despite announcing earlier this month that it had managed to sell all but one of the properties that were purchased with the funds, it was always a long shot as to whether all of the money could ever be recovered.
When the massive fraud was coupled with continuing falls in retail sales, (a loss $4.5 million in the most recent quarter, with more predicted for the future) the blow ultimately proved one from which Clive Peeters was unable to recover.