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CFO accused of Fleeing to Thailand after Stealing $2.7 million



MINTER Ellison's former South Australian chief financial officer is today expected to be charged with 203 counts of fraud, after being extradited from Sydney to Adelaide to face allegations he stole $2.7 million from the top-tier firm.

Police prosecutor Lisa Stamper yesterday told Adelaide Magistrates Court Craig Dean Raneberg, 46, had allegedly stolen the money during the 10 years he had worked for Minter Ellison’s South Australia/Northern Territory branch, before moving to Thailand.

“We see that the defendant is a serious flight risk due to the seriousness of offending, and also the money that he is alleged to have taken is still outstanding,” Senior Constable Stamper said.

Mr Raneberg was yesterday charged with six counts of dishonestly taking property without the owners’ consent.

Adelaide Magistrates Court is expected to hear more details about the 203 related charges next Thursday. The court yesterday heard that in the decade Mr Raneberg worked for the firm, he is alleged to have deleted records relating to the transfer of funds from equity partner accounts to bank accounts in his name.

 It is understood that Minter Ellison did not have insurance for theft from partner accounts. Mr Raneberg is not alleged to have stolen from client accounts.

Mr Raneberg had worked for Minter Ellison until June 30, and had trained another staff member to take over his position.

On July 1, Mr Raneberg flew to Thailand, the day before he was officially made redundant.

He then stayed in Thailand for three months, and returned to Sydney last Friday to renew his visa.

The court heard Mr Raneberg spent 18 hours in Sydney, during which he renewed his visa, stayed overnight in a hotel and called his father, before using frequent-flyer points to obtain a return ticket to Thailand on Saturday. “When he was attempting to leave he was stopped by police and detained,” Senior Constable Stamper said.

A warrant for his extradition was approved on Tuesday and police accompanied Mr Raneberg back to Adelaide on Wednesday night. “Some of the 203 counts include major indictable matters for the sums that are outstanding,” she said.

Representing Mr Raneberg, duty solicitor Jessie MacGillivray said her client could have renewed his visa in Cambodia — a country that does not have an extradition treaty with Australia — but chose to return to Sydney to “find out what he was wanted for and speak to police”.

“He arrived back in Sydney, he was not apprehended, he went straight through arrivals,” Ms MacGillivray said.

Craig Raneberg's parents leave Adelaide Magistrates Court yesterday after their son's appearance Picture: Kelly Barnes Source: The Australian

“He assumed he was not wanted so he stayed in a motel in Sydney and spoke to his father.”

Ms MacGillivray told the court Mr Raneberg had no significant assets to pay for a bond if he were released on home detention bail. “He’s got no money in the bank . . . he’s got the title to his house but it has a mortgage . . . but the property has been frozen by civil action by Minter Ellison,” she said.

She said Mr Raneberg had tried to sell his inner-suburban Brompton house before it was frozen by Minter Ellison, putting it on the market the day he left Australia.

Ms MacGillivray said Mr Raneberg’s father Barry had agreed to act as a guarantor, including using his house for home detention purposes. Despite reserving his decision to grant bail, when magistrate Joseph Baldino said the guarantee amount would be $20,000, Barry Raneberg let out an audible, sharp gasp. “His parents aren’t in a position to lodge a cash surety . . . and Mr Raneberg doesn’t have any money,” Ms MacGillivray told the court.

She denied Mr Raneberg was a flight risk, considering police had already seized his passport and he did not have any money. “He only has ties to South Australia in Australia, he has no reason to go to a different state,” she said.

Mr Baldino ordered a home detention and bail inquiry report to allow the court to give proper consideration to releasing Mr Raneberg, who has been remanded in custody until next week, when the additional charges are likely to be heard.

Minter Ellison managing partner Nigel McBride said the matter was now in the hands of authorities, the Director of Public Prosecutions and the police and he could not comment further.

Mr Raneberg was treasurer of the Adelaide Fringe Festival board until last month, and has held positions with the South Australian Film Corporation and State Opera South Australia.

  • Verity Edwards
  • From: The Australian

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