A convicted conman has been condemned as a "ruthless" operator who deliberately targeted and deceived his victims during his sentencing in Auckland District Court today.
Loizos Michaels was today sentenced to eight years in prison after being found guilty last month of 30 fraud charges.
Michaels committed a series of brazen frauds totalling $3.2 million, and swindled businessmen, moteliers and even former All Black Jonah Lomu out of millions of dollars.
Judge Christopher Field said Michaels had taken a predatory approach to his offending and fooled his victims through a well-planned series of ploys.
"This was fraud on a very personal level. This is not the case of a director issuing a misleading company prospectus to the public at large," he said.
Michaels has protested his innocence, claiming that those who testified against him were lying.
His lawyer has not ruled out an appeal against the 45-year-old's eight-year jail term.
The Crown Prosecutor Christine Gordon said Michaels had targeted vulnerable victims and isolated them from their families.
"This was all at great financial and psychological cost. It was highly pre-mediated. It was also, the Crown submits, ruthless."
Each of the 30 charges against Michaels carried a maximum jail term of seven years. Michaels has been in custody since he was extradited to New Zealand from Australia in September last year.
His two biggest victims were former Christchurch Casino chief executive Stephen Lyttelton and operations head Peter Arbuckle.
The pair quit their jobs with the promise of multi-million dollar salaries and major roles in business ventures in New Zealand and overseas.
Cyprus-born Michaels claimed to be a corporate big shot, with links to a wealthy shipping line and the Japanese underworld.
But instead he preyed upon the vulnerabilities of his victims, milking the former casino executives of more than $2.5 million.
Michaels claimed in his defence that he was the victim and the Serious Fraud Office and 50 Crown witnesses had conspired against him. This was a claim the judge rejected.
Michaels is also under investigation in Australia where officials are expected to be monitoring today's sentencing.
"We would expect them to come and talk to us after the sentencing about where they might want to go with their cases," said Simon McArley, SFO Acting Chief Executive.