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China call told bank of millions stolen
China call told bank of millions stolen

An informant in China, seeking a reward, tipped off Westpac about millions being stolen from a New Zealand account, a court has heard.

The Crown alleges that more than $6 million Hui (Leo) Gao transferred offshore was gained from a misplaced decimal point which resulted in the $100,000 Westpac overdraft he was granted being increased to $10 million.

Evidence on Wednesday in the Rotorua District Court trial of Gao's partner Kara Hurring centred around transfers Gao allegedly made to banks in China and Hong Kong in April and May 2009.

Testimony given by a member of Westpac's migrant banking department, Hamilton-based Wendy Wang, told of receiving calls from a man with Chinese phone number who claimed someone was stealing money from the bank.

He claimed that person had already taken $4m-$5m.

"I thought he may be joking or have mental health problems," Ms Wang said.

The man had asked for a reward before providing the bank with further information, telling her she'd be doing something good for the bank and could receive some money herself if she agreed to his request.

She declined and referred the man's calls to Westpac's fraud unit.

A Westpac Wellington employee specialising in money laundering, Stuart Hansen, said the bank had been able to claw back or freeze $2.9 million of the money being sent out of the country but a significant amount remains outstanding.

He agreed with defence counsel, Simon Lance, that it had taken the bank a fortnight to discover its $10m error.

Quizzed further, he said he believed systems were now in place to stop such an error happening again.

An attorney of the Macau Wynn casino and its related companies, Jason Schall, has outlined how Hurring opened a player account at the casino and how two payments of more than $NZ340,000 were made into it via a Hong Kong bank.

Hurring, the 33-year-old mother of two including Gao's son born in China last year, has denied 25 theft charges, three of attempting to use a bank card dishonestly and two of money laundering.

NZ Newswire

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