[QODLink]
Asia-Pacific
New Zealand jails 'accidental millionaire'
Hui "Leo" Gao sentenced for theft after fleeing to China when bank mistake put millions of dollars in his account.
Last Modified: 24 Aug 2012 11:52
Westpac bank credited Gao with $8.1m instead of $81,000 [Getty Images]

A New Zealand man who fled to China after millions of dollars were accidentally put in his bank account has been jailed for four years and seven months

"Accidental millionaire" Hui "Leo" Gao was sentenced on Friday for stealing millions of dollars after an error by Westpac bank crediting him with $8.1m instead of $81,000 overdraft he wanted to renovate his BP petrol station in order to sell it.

His former girlfriend Kara Hurring avoided prison, but was sentenced to nine months under house arrest and ordered to pay $9,588 of money she withdrew using Gao's credit card.

Gao, 31, pleaded guilty to seven charges of theft. He was arrested and extradited from Hong Kong in December.

He said in court that he would not be able to pay back the money, New Zealand media reported.

Hurring, 33, was found guilty of money laundering, attempted fraud and theft in May.

The trial ended a saga that has grabbed international attention. They were caught last year after being on the run for more than two years.

Hurring was arrested after returning to New Zealand in February 2011 after the birth of the couple's child and found guilty of 25 counts of theft in a trial in May.

"They put money in my bank account again, you know, I'll just give it back," Gao said in an interview.

Gao spoke to Television New Zealand's Sunday night current affairs programme .

In 2009, Gao had asked the bank for a $81,000 overdraft to help support his struggling garage.

The bank found out about the error days after transferring the millions into Gao's business account.

But by then, police said, the couple had transferred more than half of the money into other accounts and then fled to Hong Kong.

They allegedly went on a gambling spree in Macau and southern China last year.

308

Source:
Agencies
Topics in this article
People
Country
Featured on Al Jazeera
The author argues that in the new economy, it's people, not skills or majors, that have lost value.
Colleagues of detained Al Jazeera journalists press demands for their release, 100 days after their arrest in Egypt.
Mehdi Hasan discusses online freedoms and the potential of the web with Wikipedia founder Jimmy Wales.
A tight race seems likely as 814 million voters elect leaders in world's largest democracy next week.
Featured
As Syria's civil war escalates along the Turkish border, many in Turkey are questioning the country's involvement.
Treatment for autism in the region has progressed, but lack of awareness and support services remains a challenge.
The past isn't far away for a people exiled from Crimea by Russia and the decades it took to get home.
New report highlights plight of domestic helpers in the United Kingdom, with critics comparing it to kefala system.
Kurds say declaring Saddam Hussein's 1988 campaign to be a genocide could help with lawsuits and healing process.
join our mailing list