The former financial controller of leading political strategy firm Crosby Textor has pleaded not guilty to hundreds of charges after he allegedly stole more than $850,000 from the business.
Mohammed Saderuddin Syed, 46, allegedly made numerous unauthorised payments from Crosby Textor bank accounts to his own accounts during his time at the company.
On Friday, Mr Syed faced Downing Centre District Court for arraignment, where he pleaded not guilty to 396 counts of dishonestly obtaining financial advantage by deception.
When Mr Syed’s matter was mentioned, Judge Dina Yehia asked if the charges could be presented in a truncated way, because reading each charge individually and waiting for Mr Syed to enter his plea would take “half a day”. The prosecutor and defence lawyer agreed.
Mr Syed, who appeared via video link, confirmed that he had been provided a copy of the indictment containing all 396 charges and confirmed it had been explained to him what each charge pertained to.
Asked if he was entering a plea of not guilty to each charge, Mr Syed responded: “That’s correct, your honour, not guilty”.
When Mr Syed was charged in 2019, police said they had commenced inquiries into “the alleged fraud of more than $850,000”, resulting in Mr Syed’s arrest.
Crosby Textor, also known as C|T Group, is the renowned Australian conservative-aligned political strategy firm that has been used by consecutive Liberal governments and Britain’s Tories, with offices in Sydney, Canberra, London, Washington DC, Milan, Hong Kong, Mumbai and Dubai.
The criminal case will proceed to a trial in October 2022, with an estimate of six to eight weeks.