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.

    New Zealand jails 'accidental millionaire'
    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.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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