Melbourne High School former business manager Frances Walshe admits stealing $350,000

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Melbourne High School’s former business manager has admitted stealing more than $350,000 from the school across almost a decade while she oversaw its multimillion-dollar finances.

Frances Walshe, who was praised in the school’s 2020 annual report for managing its finances “in a most efficient and effective manner”, faced Melbourne Magistrates’ Court on Wednesday and pleaded guilty to 10 charges of theft and one of obtaining a financial advantage by deception.

Melbourne High School.Credit:Andrew De La Rue

Charge sheets released by the court show Walshe, 65, stole a combined $358,500 from the school between the start of 2012 and September last year.

A separate charge says she also defrauded the school of $77,000 between 2016 and last year by altering the payee details on invoices.

“Guilty, your honour,” Walshe said when asked on Wednesday to enter a plea in the online hearing.

Principal Tony Mordini confirmed Walshe worked at the school for “a long time” and oversaw its budgets and financial records.

My School figures show Melbourne High School has an annual budget of more than $20 million. Located in South Yarra, it is Victoria’s only selective entry government school for boys.

Mordini said Walshe resigned as soon as her offending was discovered following an internal review of the school’s finances once discrepancies were detected.

“The school has acted immediately once the school had identified anomalies, and the school is confident it acted appropriately in its responsibilities and contacting the authorities,” he said.

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