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Alleged conman operated 'brazen scam'

Published: 7:40PM Tuesday November 27, 2012 Source: ONE News

Crown prosecutors have accused alleged fraudster Loizos Michaels of operating a "brazen scam", duping his victims into handing over millions of dollars.

They were speaking as the Crown gave its closing statements to Auckland District Court after seven weeks of evidence.

Michaels is accused of using a series of elaborate lies to con his victims, including two former Christchurch casino executives, out of more than $3 million.

"He played a brazen scam at the highest level, manipulating those he came across to gain more profile or more cash," said Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon.

The prosecution claims Michaels boasted he was part of a wealthy shipping family with connections to an Asian casino operator, spinning a web of lies which induced his victims into investing in his false business ventures.

Two of his victims, former Christchurch casino CEO Stephen Lyttelton and fellow executive Peter Arbuckle, were taken in.

"Mr Michaels needed to convince the complainants that the projects were real and developing, and because the fraud continued over many months the deceptions became more and more elaborate," said Gordon.

In less than 10 months the pair had quit their jobs, handing over more than $2.5 million to Michaels, largely in cash payments.

It is money that has never been recovered.

However, Michaels claims he never received any of the money, and that the Serious Fraud Squad which investigated the case conspired against him.

The Crown says this defence is outrageous.

But Michael's legal team claim he was the one who was duped.

"The accused himself was the victim of an elaborate and complex series of fraudulent activities initiated and perpetrated by Messrs Lyttelton and Arbuckle," said Michael's lawyer Peter Kaye.

Michaels faces a total of 30 charges, each carrying a maximum prison term of seven years.