AN energy company may sue Melbourne’s Crown Casino to recover $800,000 gambled away by a high-rolling former manager, a court heard today. Wayne John Seiler stole $1.04 million from electricity and gas provider TXU while working as a financial manager last year, the Victorian County Court heard.
Over eight months, Seiler, 34, of McMahons Point, Sydney, allegedly signed false payment forms made out to hedge fund Entergy-Koch Trading after changing the deposit details to his own bank account.
The payments were approved on the basis of Seiler’s signature despite the periodic contract with Entergy-Koch having lapsed at the end of winter 2002, the court heard.
Defense lawyer Peter Chadwick said the theft fuelled Seiler’s casino gambling, which began after he moved from Sydney to Melbourne alone, despondent and in debt when his marriage collapsed. Identified as a big spender, Seiler was invited to the high-roller Mahogany Room and often stayed through the night, the court heard.
Mr Chadwick said Seiler began arriving at work drunk, and taking cocaine and ecstasy after falling “holus-bolus” under the spell of the Mahogany Room’s “colourful characters”. “Sometimes the casino would accommodate him, shout him accommodation in the presidential suite, which is $500 a night,” Mr Chadwick said.
“He has gambled away everything that he ever had, as well as the money that he took.” Mr Chadwick said TXU had applied for compensation and filed a civil suit against Seiler. He said a case before the Supreme Court might act as a precedent allowing TXU to widen its civil action in a bid to recover the stolen money from Crown.
“Mr Seiler has indicated he will cooperate with any action TXU wishes to take against Crown Casino,” Mr Chadwick said.
The court heard Seiler lost about $800,000 at Crown, and more than $200,000 on horse racing and internet gambling. He resigned from TXU in August last year, a month before his ruse was discovered during an internal audit.
He admitted the theft when contacted by police and later pleaded guilty to four counts of obtaining financial advantage by deception, an offense that carries a maximum penalty of 10 years in jail. While Mr Chadwick said Seiler acted alone in the theft, Judge Tony Duckett said his success showed “the systems were wrong somewhere”. Judge Duckett released Seiler on bail to be sentenced on a date yet to be fixed.