Rotorua: A couple who found $10 million mistakenly deposited in their bank account celebrated with a slap-up meal and vanished from their home.
Service station owner Leo Gao had asked Westpac bank for a $100,000 overdraft but, on April 21, 2009, he and partner Kara Mary-Jo Hurring found $10 million had been loaded on to his business account overdraft.Gao kept refreshing the page, but the amount would not change.
She is alleged to have withdrawn up to $1500 in cash at a time from the ASB account, exceeding the daily limit every day. She then flew via Hong Kong to the gambling resort of Macau, where she opened a $341,000 “front money account” at Wynn International casino for gambling chips, accommodation and food.
Later she gave $2000 to younger sister Aroha to join her in Hong Kong, where they stayed in hotels and went shopping.
Aroha Hurring told the court she did not realise her sister was involved in the $10m error until she saw it on the news in China. “I freaked out,” she said.
She asked Hurring about the money and was told there would be no problem. “She told me the $10m had been put in Leo’s account by mistake.”
The next day she rang her mother to book her a return ticket to New Zealand.
Gao is alleged to have transferred a total of about $6.2m to accounts in China through remittance companies before Westpac realised its mistake and froze the transactions. Westpac recovered about $2.9m but $3.3m is still
Hurring spent 22 months on the run before being arrested when she returned to Auckland to apply for a passport for her baby son in February 2011.
Gao was arrested in September 2011 when he attempted to cross the border between China and Hong Kong. He is on electronic bail in Auckland, waiting for trial.