Runaway millionaires no more
Fri, 24 Aug 2012 6:23p.m.
By Amanda Gillies
Rotorua's runaway millionaires won't be running anywhere for a while.
Leo Gao and Kara Hurring were sentenced today over the theft of $10 million accidentally deposited into Gao's bank account.
Gao has been jailed for nearly five years, while Hurring is on home detention for nine months.
And according to their lawyers, they have no money to their names. Hurring now lives with her mum in a small town, surviving on the DPB and part-time beautician work. She apparently has no savings, no assets.
Gao has remorse, according to his lawyer, but no way to pay back the still outstanding $3.8 million he stole.
"I've been made to stay in the country, I've been prevented from working," he says. "My circumstances, I've done the best I can."
Three years ago Hurring was working at a Rotorua BP, owned by her partner Gao. He was in financial strife and applied for a $100,000 overdraft, but Westpac gave him $10 million instead.
Gao transferred $6 million to Auckland remittance companies so it could be transferred overseas, then fled the country.
Hurring stayed behind for a few days and went on a spending spree. But her lawyer insisted she didn't go overboard – she ate, for example, at McDonald's.
"One was for $14.30, probably enough for a Big Mac and a Happy Meal, but not apple pie," says her lawyer Simon Lance.0
Asian food was next on the menu – she fled for the Chinese gambling playground of Macau, finally coming home last year.
Gao was extradited months later. By then Westpac had recovered $6.7 million, but $3.8 million is still missing.
He wouldn't elaborate on what happened to it.
"I just said I want to talk about the case, that's it," says Gao.
Hurring also doesn't want to talk about the money. She wouldn't say if she had regrets, but said talk of magazine and movie deals was rubbish.
Gao was sentenced to four years and seven years jail. Hurring got nine months' home detention, and she must pay back nearly $12,000 at $75 a week.
Neither showed much emotion as the sentences were read out.
Timeline: The runaway millionaires
April 2009: Gao applies for a $100,000 overdraft with Westpac to revamp his petrol station but $10m is accidentally deposited into his account.
April-May 2009: Gao transfers $6.7m to overseas accounts, the pair tell friends they're going on holiday and they both head to China.
May 2009: Westpac learns of its error and freezes Gao's account.
February 2011: Hurring is arrested on arrival into New Zealand after returning home voluntarily.
September 2011: Following an international manhunt lasting more than two years, Gao is arrested trying to enter Hong Kong from China.
December 2011: Gao is extradited to New Zealand under police guard.
May 2012: Hurring is found guilty by a jury of 30 charges relating to the overdraft error, including theft, using a bank card for pecuniary advantage and money laundering.
June 2012: Gao pleads guilty to seven theft charges in Auckland District Court. He had originally been charged with 16 counts of theft and two of money laundering.
August 24, 2012: Gao is jailed for four years and seven months, and Hurring is sentenced to nine months' home detention and ordered to pay $11,830 reparation.
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26/08/2012 8:11:42 p.m.
Del boy wrote:
Despite his personal background and own parental circumstances it should amaze noone he is being made an example of. A bit of bloody money that he knows he will be hunted for until his dying day. Manipulating bankers and company swineherd who stuff there own off shore accounts at Everyone's expense, take investors for millions and do way less time.....as very recent events have shown!! How dare a commoner try this on!!!!!!! To the Gallows....immediately!
25/08/2012 8:04:03 a.m.
Funny 5 years that the tax payer has to pick up while hes in prison. Banks round the world have stolen billions and billions of dollars off the tax payer and not held accountable for a cent but given more JOKE!!!!
24/08/2012 10:56:29 p.m.
Gao got an overdraft and spent it. Thats what an overdraft is for isn't it?
24/08/2012 9:58:44 p.m.
Of course he can't say what happened to the money, he probably has it stashed somewhere for when he gets out of jail. When he gets out, kick his arse out of the country. New Zealand used a lot of resources chasing him around.
24/08/2012 6:45:26 p.m.
They can't say they didn't know what they were doing and there needs to be consequences for their actions.
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