Devastated elderly man is forced to become one of Australia’s oldest FIFO workers after female employee ‘who was treated like family’ steals MILLIONS from him
- Greg Zeuschner’s assistant Vicki Clerke defrauded his business of $3.7million
- Clerke, 64, was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars in February
- She gambled the funds away in pokie machines before admitting to the theft
- Clubs where she lost money refused to pay back 75-year-old’s stolen money
- Mr Zeuschner forced to keep running his business and fly interstate every week
Vicki Clerke (pictured) defrauded her employer of $3.7 million and lost it on poker machines – forcing her boss to keep running the business and become one of Australia’s oldest FIFO workers
An elderly industrial chemist has been forced to become one of Australia oldest FIFO workers after his personal assistant stole millions of dollars from his business.
Tasmanian Greg Zeuschner, 75, was trying to sell his aerosol paint company UltraColor in September 2018 when his personal assistant Vicki Clerke confessed to stealing ‘hundreds of thousands’ of dollars and losing it on poker machines.
Clerke, 64, was jailed for four-and-a-half years in February after it emerged she had actually defrauded his business of $3.7 million.
Mr Zeuschner has so far only recouped $235,000 from Clerke’s bankruptcy proceedings because the clubs where she gambled away the money refused to return the stolen funds.
The 75-year-old planned to use the sale of his business to retire to his hobby farm near Launceston but the deal was put on hold while Clerke was on trial.
Clerke, 64, (right) was sentenced to four-and-a-half years behind bars in February for defrauding her employer
Having failed to get back most of the money he lost, Mr Zeuschner is still running UltraColor and flying to Sydney from Tasmania every week to supervise the business’ production.
‘It was devastating. Like a lot of small businesses we were paying our employees more than we paid ourselves,’ he told the ABC.
‘[Vicki] had been treated like a family friend. She had actually stayed with us, here in Tasmania, just as a guest.’
Greg Zeuschner, 75, (pictured) has so far only recouped $235,000 from Clerke’s bankruptcy proceedings
He recalled how Clerke called him to admit to the fraud on the morning of his meeting with the potential buyers – fearing they would find out about the theft when they looked into the company’s finances.
‘I asked the question, “well, how much?”‘ Mr Zeuschner said.
‘That’s when she said “well, hundreds of thousands” and that she’d put it through the poker machines. It turned out later to be around $3.7 million.’
The two clubs named in court where Clerke lost the money were Windsor RSL north west of Sydney and St Marys Leagues Clubs in the city’s west.
She hid her fraud by creating dummy invoices.
Her high levels of spending meant she was treated as a VIP at the St Marys club and had her own personal attendant and complimentary drinks menu in the pokies room.
The court heard she lived a modest lifestyle, putting all the stolen funds and her winnings back into the poker machines.
Clerke was treated as a VIP at the St Marys club and had her own personal attendant (stock image)
Despite the business owner claiming he should be repaid the stolen money by the leagues clubs, St Marys Leagues chief executive Rod Desborough said his organisation had no obligation to do so.
Under the Proceeds of Crime Act, businesses are only expected to repay money they knew to be stolen – which was not the case in Clerke’s fraud.
Daily Mail Australia has contacted St Marys Leagues and Windsor RSL for further comment.