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Current as of 24/03/17 07:39PM NZST
Rob Kidd is a NZME. News Service court reporter based in Auckland.

SkyCity fraud: Ex-boss has assets frozen

Tessa Grant this year pleaded guilty to defrauding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. Photo / Facebook
Tessa Grant this year pleaded guilty to defrauding Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. Photo / Facebook

A woman who stole almost $800,000 from a top school and is being chased by SkyCity for more than $1.2 million has had her assets frozen.

And her father John Grant has been implicated in the court case too.

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 to fund her high-rolling lifestyle.

And last week SkyCity was successful in applying to the High Court to freeze her assets so it could attempt to recover the $1.26m allegedly stolen.

The interim orders made by the court also extended to one of her companies, Mr Grant, his company Boston Six Ltd and Elizabeth Brown who owns a horse with Grant.

The court today heard businessman Mr Grant had been restricted to $500 a week living expenses and $5000 to pay his legal fees as the matter progressed.

His lawyer Jeff Ussher said SkyCity's allegations came as "a complete surprise" to his client and attempted to have that order lifted today, but Justice Matthew Muir declined.

SkyCity's lawyer Jacqueline Lethbridge said receivers carrying out an "urgent investigation" of the fraudster's financial affairs had found two instances in which she had transferred assets to her father's company.

Tessa Fiona Grant leaves the Hamilton District Court with her lawyer Guyon Foley. Photo / Belinda Feek
Tessa Fiona Grant leaves the Hamilton District Court with her lawyer Guyon Foley. Photo / Belinda Feek

One example covered an $80,000 horse truck.

Ms Lethbridge said freezing orders against Mr Grant's assets should continue to protect any further transfers.

Justice Muir was quick to point out the current material before the court did not incriminate Mr Grant.

"[He] may have been acting out of paternal affection for his daughter and these transactions may prove to be innocuous," he said.

He has until next week to provide an affidavit outlining his position and any further assets she may have passed on to him.

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

"These are fairly unusual circumstances where you have significant fraud committed and then full reparation is made and as a result of publication about that it transpires there's allegedly identical fraud committed earlier," Ms Lethbridge said.

"And the proceeds of that fraud appear to have been used to fund repayment of the second fraud."

SkyCity's chief officer, Nigel Morrison said during her employment Grant appeared to have been responsible for a number of "unexplained transactions", 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.

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.

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.

- NZ Herald

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