Manager jailed after $200K theft from employer

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Canterbury employer Warren Rice has warned Kiwi business operators to ensure they are protected from fraud after his office manager was found guilty of stealing almost $200,000 from his company.

Former manager Gillian Budge was sentenced to over two years in prison in the Christchurch District Court last week, Stuff reported. She pleaded guilty to theft by a person in a special relationship.

During the hearing, Budge confessed to stealing $196,742.22 from Southern Engineering Solutions over a five year period.

Rice – who owns Southern Engineering Solutions – said that Budge’s transgressions were discovered only when she went on leave and his wife temporarily took over the office manager role.

Rice’s wife reportedly noticed that the company owed $100,000 in unpaid GST, and eventually discovered the extent of the theft when she reviewed the company’s bank statements.

Rice advised other business owners to be more vigilant, suggesting police checks be carried out on prospective employees.

“I think that more people have to speak out,” he told Stuff. “A lot of people are embarrassed that it's happened to them, but I don't think you should be.”

Detective Sue Kingston, who handled the police investigation into the case, referred to Budge’s offenses as a “significant theft over a long period of time”, and warned that employers should not dismiss the possibility of similar circumstances occurring within their company.

“It did have a great impact on the complainant and the company,” she told Stuff. “I think it does happen a lot more than people realise.”

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