4 Feb 2016

School fraudster's assets frozen after SkyCity complaint

5:28 pm on 4 February 2016

A woman who defrauded one of Hamilton's top schools out of nearly $800,000 has had her assets frozen.

Sky City

SkyCity has laid a complaint against Tessa Fiona Grant, who is due to be sentenced next month for defrauding the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls. Photo: RNZ / Alexander Robertson

Tessa Fiona Grant is due to be sentenced at the Hamilton District Court next month after she admitted ripping off her former employer, the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls.

But now SkyCity has complained to the police about "unexplained transactions" while Grant worked for the casino operator between 2006 and 2014.

SkyCity had applied to freeze Grant's assets, including a part-share in a horse called Henton Attorney General currently located in Britain.

The matter was called in the High Court in Auckland today.

Grant's father is also caught up in the asset freeze, and has been given an allowance of $500 a week for living expenses and $5000 for legal expenses.

He owns a company called Boston Six.

SkyCity lawyer Jacque Lethbridge told the court receivers had uncovered a transaction which showed Mr Grant had approached a horse float company building a float for his daughter.

Ms Lethbridge said Mr Grant asked for a $130,000 invoice to be made out in the name of Boston Six.

That request was made at a time when his daughter's assets were frozen by Waikato Diocesan, she said.

SkyCity wanted Mr Grant's assets frozen until he filed an affidavit with the court outlining which of his daughter's assets he controlled.

In his ruling, Justice Muir said none of that was proven and Mr Grant might have simply been acting out of "paternal affection" for his daughter.

But, the judge said, there was justification in extending the orders until next week, when Mr Grant was due to file an affidavit outlining which, if any, of his daughter's assets he had an interest in.

Waikato Diocesan offending

Grant was employed as the commercial manager of the Waikato Diocesan School for Girls, which made her second only to the principal with a salary of $125,000.

She had responsibility for finance, property development and maintenance. Grant also controlled the purse strings and was a signatory on the school account.

Late last year, Grant resigned as the school investigated her use of the school credit card.

The school discovered Grant was at the centre of a false invoicing scam.

One of the charges related to Grant falsely invoicing the school for building the new food technology complex and the principal's home. The true cost of the work was about $600,000 but the school ended up paying over $1.1 million.

Only half of the 12 invoices in the construction company's name were genuine, and the money from the extra bills had been syphoned off by Grant.

She took a total of $795,000 off the school and used it to buy an equestrian centre, a horse and customised jewellery.

Grant has paid the school back.