News People Media network defrauded of $8m: NSW cops
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Media network defrauded of $8m: NSW cops

seven network fraud
The Seven network has reportedly lost $8 million in the case. Photo: AAP
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Former Seven West Media Executive John Fitzgerald has been arrested as part of a multi-million-dollar fraud investigation.

Mr Fitzgerald, who controlled the company’s finances and television programming, was arrested at his home in Breakfast Point, Sydney, this morning and is expected to be charged later today.

Seven declined to comment on the arrest.

Police said detectives from the State Crime Command’s Financial Crimes Squad set up Strike Force Hamment to look into the “misappropriation” of funds affecting the network.

The investigation had taken two years in an “extremely laborious and complex operation”, police said.

Police allege the incidents cover 14 years of Fitzgerald’s tenure at the company, spanning back to 2002.

Detective Acting Superintendent Richard Puffett from the Financial Crimes Squad said it had investigated the matter when the network approached police after making their own internal inquiries, culminating in the arrest today.

“That man has been taken to Burwood Police Station and will be charged later today with a number of fraud-related charges in the context of that $8 million misappropriation of funds from that network,” he said.

Police allege that about 700 invoices relate to the $8 million, with a large proportion of the funds going to superannuation investments in real estate.

“There have been a number of false invoices utilised,” Superintendent Puffett said.

“We’ll allege that this male has orchestrated the submission of these invoices and this has resulted in the funds being siphoned off to a number of bank accounts that have been set up by this individual.”

Police said they were not investigating anyone else in relation to the matter.

Superintendent Puffett said the charges will reflect “the magnitude of the criminality”.

The investigation had covered correspondence, accounts and liaising with financial institutions and forensic accountants.

“We’ve been very tenacious in our investigation of it and we like to send the message that if you bite the hand that feeds you, we’ll come after you.”

-ABC