Jail time cut for $50m thief

PAUL BIBBY
Last updated 13:47 03/07/2013
Rajina Rita Subramaniam
JANIE BARRETT
WANTED TO FEEL GOOD: Rajina Rita Subramaniam enjoyed the self-affirmation shopkeepers gave her when she spent up large.

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A Sydney accountant who siphoned A$43 million (NZ$50m) from her employer and then embarked on lavish spending sprees at the city's top jewellery and perfume stores has had her sentenced cut by a year on appeal.

In the largest case of fraud by a woman in New South Wales history, Rajina Rita Subramaniam repeatedly siphoned off tens of thousands of dollars from ING Australia, where she was an accountant for more than a decade.

The 45-year-old from Castle Hill spent the money on seven prestige properties - including four units on Bondi Beach's exclusive Campbell Parade - 600 pieces of designer jewellery, and 200 perfumes and make-up items. But then she barely touched them.

When ING finally twigged to the fraud and called police, officers from the fraud squad discovered many of the luxury items still in their boxes stashed underneath her desk, with none of them in her personal possession.

She never resided at any of the luxury properties, leaving them empty or allowing shop assistants she had befriended during her shopping sprees to stay there.

The 45-year-old pleaded guilty to the crime, and was sentenced to a maximum of 15 years' jail and a minimum of seven years' jail by District Court judge Michael Finane.

But a three judge panel of the NSW Court of Criminal Appeal on Wednesday reduced the offender's minimum sentence to six years and the maximum to 12.

During her sentencing in late 2011, the court heard Subramaniam was motivated, not by greed, but by a desire for revenge over the allegedly abusive sexual relationship she was having with a workmate, and an overwhelming need for positive affirmation.

She had extremely poor self-esteem, due in part to the sexual abuse she allegedly experienced as a child at the hands of her grandfather and two uncles.

After getting involved with a colleague at ING, she came to perceive the relationship as abusive but continued to see the man for years.

This alleged abuse and the feeling that her supervisors were bullying her led to a desire for revenge and to "get back at the system and others within the system".

She would spend millions of dollars in a single lunch hour, gaining much needed positive affirmation from the shopkeepers whom she saw as friends and who saw her as extremely wealthy and extremely generous.

"Each of them received commissions for sales to her, and giving presents to them, in my opinion, is consistent with her wanting to be accepted and praised," Judge Finnane said in sentencing the 45-year-old.

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With time served, Subramaniam will be eligible for parole on October 3, 2015.

- Sydney Morning Herald

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