ERA orders employee to repay $574,000

Last updated 09:57 26/03/2014
Susan Hagai
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ
'REMORSEFUL': Susan Hagai, pictured in a 2011 court appearance.

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An employee who ripped off a Catholic society for $574,000 has been ordered to repay the money.

The Hibernian Catholic Benefit Society had sued its former administration and accounting officer Susan Terri Hagai, 47, in the High Court at Wellington.

But in February, associate Judge Roger Bell said there were "inconsistent decisions" on where such cases could be decided and said the Employment Relations Authority should hear it.

In its just-released decision, the authority ordered Hagai to repay the society the $547,000.

She was also made to repay interest on the money of $3695.61, plus $2000 in costs.

Hagai was employed by the society from 1994 to 2010 in a job which involved administering bank accounts and funds.

Between May 2007 and June 2010 - when she was made redundant - she transferred $574,000 from the society into bank accounts of hers and her husband's.

Her theft was discovered when the accounting was outsourced in 2010, the ERA decision said.

Her frauds against the society, as well as the Hibernian Credit Union, were discovered in 2010.

Together the frauds amounted to more than $1.2 million from the two groups, leading to the liquidation of the credit union in January 2012.

Hagai was sentenced to four years and two months' jail in October 2011 after pleading guilty.

She served about 16 months of the sentence.She impressed the Parole Board.

"We were of the unanimous view that she presented in a very authentic and genuine manner. She is very remorseful for her offending," the board said.

Hagai was freed on March 19 last year but the conditions of her parole continue until December next year.

The conditions include not managing money in a paid or unpaid capacity without the permission of a probation officer.

The union's liquidators did not sue Hagai personally.

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- Fairfax Media

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