A FORMER employee of St John’s Village at Wangaratta has been charged with defrauding the aged care centre of $1.4 million over six years.
The woman, 46, who now lives interstate, faces seven counts of obtaining property by deception and will appear at the Wangaratta Magistrates’ Court on October 14.
Wangaratta detectives served charges on her solicitors last week after a three-year investigation led by Detective Sen-Constable Paul Campbell.
Police said the alleged $1.4 million fraud occurred between 2004 and 2010.
Detectives were notified after an internal investigation by St John’s, which is a Wangaratta Anglican diocese facility.
St John’s senior management became aware of a fraud in November 2010 and accepted the woman’s resignation that month.
Yesterday chief executive Peter Hill said the major fraud operation at “senior level” had sparked a six-month internal review that had shored-up the facility’s security.
The review prompted some changes including the adoption of a fraud and corruption policy, a financial code of accounting practice and new financial software.
St John’s increased its electronic banking services and introduced an audit trail check in payroll, creditors and billing.
A new financial manager was employed as well as new auditors and overall, Mr Hill said, greater checks and balances were put in place.
“The organisation went through a very intense financial management audit so the system has considerably tightened,” he said.
Mr Hill, who became chief executive at St John’s in January, said losing $1.4 million affected St John’s ability to plan for major development but not day-to-day operations.
“It curtailed what it planned to do, also, I guess thankfully, it was insured,” he said.
“We’ve managed to recover a significant part of it.”
He would not comment further on how $1.4 million disappeared from a company bank account.
“We have to wait for court proceedings,” he said.
St John’s Village has 74 hostel rooms, a 31-bed low and high care memory support unit, 31 cottages and 159 other units.