Business of Law

Jailed Ex-CFO Stole Nearly $2.7M from Top Law Firm Over 10 Years, Prosecutor Says

The former chief financial officer at the Adelaide office of a top Australian firm made off with nearly 2.7 million dollars of his colleagues’ money over a 10-year period before he was terminated in June, a prosecutor told the Adelaide Magistrates Court today.

A routine government tax inquiry drew Minter Ellison’s attention to the alleged embezzlement by Craig Dean Raneberg, 46, who was extradited from Sydney to appear at the hearing, reports the Sydney Morning Herald. He is charged with six counts of dishonestly taking property without consent and more charges are expected.

The question, the newspaper says, concerned exactly how much had been paid, in salaries and other funds, to the 40 partners in the firm’s Adelaide and Darwin offices. The 2.7 million, in Australian dollars, that Raneberg allegedly embezzled amount to approximately $2.63 million in U.S. dollars, at the current exchange rate.

Raneberg, who was unshaven and bleary-eyed at the court hearing, hasn’t yet entered a plea, the Advertiser reports. But his lawyer insisted he wasn’t a fugitive and voluntarily came back to Australia from Thailand, where he spent the last several months.

He reportedly was jailed, as a flight risk, pending another court hearing next week.

Nigel McBride, who serves as managing partner of the Adelaide office, called the missing-funds situation “disappointing and regrettable,” the Herald reports. However, he noted that the amount was “relatively small” compared to the firm’s annual revenue in those two offices, which rose from 10 million, in Australian dollars, a decade ago, to 45 million today.

Additionally, “it’s important to know that client money was never in danger–it was purely the incomes of the partners that were affected,” McBride said.

Additional coverage: “Ex-CFO of Top Australian Law Firm is Arrested, Accused of Stealing Six-Figure Sum”

Australian Broadcasting Corp.: “Court told law firm accountant embezzled millions”

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