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Current as of 26/05/17 07:40PM NZST
Amelia Wade is a court reporter for the New Zealand Herald

SkyCity going after former employee over financial irregularities

Tessa Fiona Grant. Photo / Facebook
Tessa Fiona Grant. Photo / Facebook

A woman who stole almost $800,000 from a top school is being chased by SkyCity for more than $1.2 million in "unexplained transactions" from when she worked at the company's Hamilton casino.

The casino company has lodged a complaint with police about Tessa Grant, 40, who this year pleaded guilty to defrauding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls out of $795,000 to fund her high rolling lifestyle.

Grant was with the casino in a senior management role from 2006 to 2014 when her contract was terminated, the company said.

Last night, SkyCity's chief officer, Nigel Morrison said during that time she appeared to have been responsible for a number of "unexplained transactions".

It's understood SkyCity alleges that Grant stole $1,266,000 and that the company has applied to the High Court to freeze her assets so it can attempt to recover the money.

Mr Morrison said the financial irregularities were discovered during an internal review. SkyCity has lodged a complaint with the Hamilton Central Police corporate fraud office.

"Our investigations into Ms Grant's activities are ongoing, including the circumstances surrounding the alleged offending, and we will provide any information and support necessary to the police to help with their investigation," Mr Morrison said.

He added that SkyCity was confident Grant's alleged activity was isolated and that there were no other issues with irregularity in invoicing or finances at any of the casino's sites.

"We are confident our systems and processes are robust, however, we are taking this matter extremely seriously and reviewing all our financial processing procedures as a result."

Last month, Grant pleaded guilty to seven fraud-related charges at the Hamilton District Court relating to her time as the commercial manager at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

The casino company has lodged a complaint with police about Tessa Grant, 40, who this year pleaded guilty to defrauding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls out of $795,000. Photo / Belinda Feek
The casino company has lodged a complaint with police about Tessa Grant, 40, who this year pleaded guilty to defrauding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls out of $795,000. Photo / Belinda Feek

Court documents showed she used fake invoices from a school building project to reap $795,000 in the nine months to August last year -- using the cash to help buy an equestrian centre in Horotiu, as well as a horse and jewellery.

She was on a $125,000 annual salary at the time of the offending, and occupied a position that was second only to the principal and responsible for the overall finances, property development and maintenance of the state-integrated school.

The offending occurred after Grant was appointed to the position at the prestigious school in July 2014, but was not noticed until after she resigned in September the following year.

An employment investigation into her conduct was launched after the suspected improper use of a school credit card, and subsequently a police investigation revealed the extent of the transactions.

In connection with the offending at Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, Grant was charged with two counts of using a document for pecuniary advantage, two counts of altering a document and three charges of using forged documents.

The charges related to a number of fake invoices, in which she obtained cheques from the school for quotes relating to various building projects.

She banked the money into her own accounts.

In one instance a $7500 cheque for non-existent asbestos removal from the school principal's house was made out to a friend of Grant's on her behalf.

Grant has denied any wrongdoing and told media she was unaware of the proceedings.

- NZ Herald

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