'Runaway millionaire' found guilty

2012-05-18 10:37
Wellington - A New Zealand woman who fled the country with her partner after a bank mistakenly deposited millions of dollars into his account was found guilty of money laundering and theft on Friday.

Kara Hurring left for China with partner Hui Gao when Westpac bank accidentally put  NZ$10m ($7.6m) into his account in April 2009 after he requested a NZ$100 000 overdraft.

The error was discovered within days but by then NZ$6.78m had already been transferred into other accounts and the pair, dubbed "the runaway millionaires", had left the country.

Hurring, who was arrested after returning to New Zealand in February last year, had pleaded not guilty in Rotorua District Court to 25 counts of stealing and two counts of laundering totalling $193 000 in Macau.

The 33-year-old said Gao had told her his financial windfall was the result of a lottery win and she had no idea the money was obtained illegally until she saw a report about the case on Chinese television.
She was convicted on all charges after a four-day trial and will be sentenced on August 24.

Gao, who was arrested in Hong Kong last September and subsequently deported to New Zealand, will face a separate trial at a date yet to be set.

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