The University of Otago has made changes to reduce the risk
of fraud at the institution in the aftermath of the theft of
nearly $240,000 over a seven-year period by a former accounts
Graeme Jeffrey Pettitt (61) was sentenced in the Dunedin
District Court last month to two years and seven months'
prison on eight convictions arising from his accessing the
university's electronic accounting system and taking nearly
$240,000 over a seven-year period.
Responding to an Official Information Act request from the
Otago Daily Times, an Otago University spokeswoman
said the investigation into Mr Pettitt's fraud had prompted
changes to "internal controls" to reduce the risk of fraud
being committed against the university in future.
The university was unwilling to detail the way which Mr
Pettitt diverted payments for his personal benefit.
However, it noted the extended period over which the fraud
took place, the small size of individual transactions and the
spread of the effect across the whole organisation meant the
fraud was harder to detect.
After the fraud was first discovered on June 18 and a brief
internal investigation had been conducted, an external
investigator was brought in to assemble evidence to a
standard suitable for handing to the police, which was then
The spokeswoman said "a reasonably modest" amount of the
money taken had been repaid to the university and
arrangements for further recovery were in place.
"The possibility of further recoveries will continue to be
considered, but if full recovery is unrealistic some writing
off may eventually occur," she said.
The university declined to release a letter of apology Mr
Pettitt wrote to the university because it was of a