Perth office manager ‘stole $163K from boss’

A mother-of-two has gone on trial in Perth, accused of stealing $163,000 from her boss of 10 years.
A mother-of-two has gone on trial in Perth, accused of stealing $163,000 from her boss of 10 years.

A WOMAN accused of stealing almost $163,000 from her boss was kept on staff after he uncovered the thefts but threatened to “ruin his reputation” when he reminded her about repaying it, a Perth court has heard.

Chaynika Sethi has gone on trial in the District Court of WA, charged with 98 counts of stealing as a servant.

Prosecutors say the mother-of-two was a trusted practice manager at a physiotherapy clinic for 10 years but plundered company bank accounts over a 21-month period.

Business owner Arran McDiven told the court Sethi became visibly upset, shaking and crying, when he questioned her about an unusual payment, confessing she’d taken between $10,000 and $20,000.

He said it came as a big blow as he felt she was “the heart of the team”.

“I felt very disappointed,” Mr McDiven said.

She explained she was under financial stress after her husband’s business failed and agreed to pay the money back, surrendering her passport – and her family’s – so she couldn’t abscond still owing.

After he asked her to bring in five years of bank statements, she estimated around $142,000 had been stolen, Mr McDiven said.

The part-time fashion designer repaid a lot of the cash, leaving about $64,000 owing, and when he asked her about it, she became upset and accused him of harassing her, threatening to ruin his reputation.

Defence counsel Sean O’Sullivan told the jury they would hear “the way things were”, saying fear made people do things they wouldn’t otherwise do.

The trial is set down for five days.