Trio found guilty in $54m fraud

The Timaru Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

out of the loop about the fraud.

‘‘For cul­tural rea­sons, pride and a cer­tain de­gree of ar­ro­gance, Huang con­cealed the fraud­u­lent pay­ments from his wife,’’ Sim­per­ing­ham said. em­ploy­ees forged Xu’s sig­na­ture on four loan ap­pli­ca­tions.

Huang and Xu were bankrupted in 2010, and were dis­charged in 2013.

About 14 months af­ter they were de­clared bank­rupt, the pair set up con­struc­tion com­pany LV Park, which is at the cen­tre of the fraud.

Un­able to bor­row from the ma­jor trad­ing banks, LV Park made sham arm’s-length sales to ob­tain bank loans via the use of false doc­u­ments.

The false doc­u­ments used fake iden­ti­fi­ca­tion and names of em­ploy­ees, friends and fam­ily.

The fraud­u­lent ac­tiv­ity in­volved 75 prop­er­ties. There are three banks in­volved in the case – ANZ, BNZ and a third that has name sup­pres­sion.

Lawyers for for­mer BNZ bank em­ployee Jiang and lawyer Chen kept their de­fence argument short, ask­ing the judge to keep an open mind and to wait to hear from the forth­com­ing wit­nesses.

The SFO laid more than 100 charges against the group in Oc­to­ber 2016.

A fourth as­so­ciate al­legedly in­volved in the fraud, for­mer ANZ banker Peter Cheng, fled over­seas be­fore his ar­rest. The tourism in­dus­try says it’s im­por­tant money gath­ered through a new in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tor levy is wisely spent and it is still un­clear how it will be al­lo­cated.

Tourism In­dus­try Aotearoa chief ex­ec­u­tive Chris Roberts is con­fi­dent the levy of $25 to $35 a head will not de­ter in­ter­na­tional vis­i­tors from com­ing here, even though those pay­ing on­line via a new elec­tronic travel au­thor­ity (ETA) will face an ad­di­tional $9 charge.

He said the de­ci­sion to ex­empt short-haul mar­kets such as Aus­tralia and the Pa­cific is­lands from the levy was un­doubt­edly tied to the Closer Eco­nomic Re­la­tions agree­ment with Aus­tralia, but it was an im­por­tant con­ces­sion that the in­dus­try had pushed hard for.

‘‘It was that trans-Tas­man mar­ket where it could have an im­pact on be­cause it’s price sen­si­tive, es­pe­cially the hol­i­day mar­ket, and with even a small in­crease Aus­tralians could de­cide to go to Bali or Fiji in­stead of New Zealand.’’

Roberts said it was not clear how the money col­lected – an es­ti­mated $57 mil­lion to $80m a year – would be split be­tween con­ser­va­tion and tourism, what sort of projects should be funded, how the de­ci­sions should be made, and by whom.

Those de­tails are yet to be ham­mered out in the con­sul­ta­tion process launched yes­ter­day. The range of op­tions out­lined in the Gov­ern­ment an­nounce­ment ranged from ba­sics such as build­ing toi­lets to de­vel­op­ing vis­i­tor at­trac­tions.

‘‘It needs to be wisely spent … on be­half of the vis­i­tors who are pay­ing; the tourism in­dus­try needs to have a say on where the money goes,’’ Roberts said.

The Tourism Ex­port Coun­cil, which rep­re­sents in­bound tour op­er­a­tors and other tourism busi­nesses, is heart­ened by the prospect of more money to im­prove in­fra­struc­ture.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive Judy Chen said the coun­cil’s mem­bers were sup­port­ive of the levy only if it was in­vested back into the in­dus­try, and she said col­lect­ing the money via the ETA was a good op­tion.

‘‘One seamless process of col­lec­tion at point of en­try is also a far bet­ter op­tion than nu­mer­ous and vary­ing tar­geted rates put in place across the coun­try by lo­cal coun­cils, as we have started to see emerge.’’

Queen­stown Lakes Dis­trict mayor Jim Boult said he was dis­ap­pointed with the Gov­ern­ment’s pro­posal be­cause a bed tax was a more ‘‘log­i­cal’’ way of fund­ing in­fra­struc­ture, and he would keep lob­by­ing for it.

STUFF

From left: Gang Chen, for­mer BNZ em­ployee Zongliang Jiang (at rear), and Kang Xu have been found guilty of charges laid by the Se­ri­ous Fraud Of­fice.

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