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Crown drops charges against 'accidental millionaire'

Published: 10:50AM Wednesday August 10, 2011 Source: Newstalk ZB / ONE News

Millions of dollars worth of theft charges laid against "accidental millionaire" Kara Hurring have been dropped due to a lack of evidence.

All the previously laid theft charges against Hurring, adding up to around $7 million, have been dropped by the Crown, along with money laundering charges adding up to around $500,000.

She is now facing 26 counts of theft in relation to around $11,000, and two new money laundering charges of more than HK$1.5 million relating to activities in Macau.

Judge McGuire told the Rotorua District Court this morning the new charges were just a "pale echo" of what Hurring was previously facing.

The officer in charge of the original investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper, said the new charges were still of a serious nature. 

"The money laundering charges are significant, to the point that given their international nature, approval was required from the Solicitor General in order to lay them," he said.

"There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, but for obvious reasons, we are not in a position to be able to discuss that. Having said that, we are still actively seeking Mr Gao in relation to the theft of $6,782,000."

Hurring allegedly fled to Asia after Westpac mistakenly loaded $10 million into her boyfriend's account and has previously pleaded not guilty to a raft of money laundering charges.

The alleged offence occurred in May 2009 when a $10 million overdraft was mistakenly loaded into the business account of Hui (Leo) Gao, Hurring's partner at the time.

He had applied for a $100,000 overdraft to save his struggling Rotorua petrol station.

Gao and Hurring allegedly transferred $6,782,000 of the money into other accounts, and then both left New Zealand for Hong Kong with Hurring's daughter. Gao left on April 29 and Hurring on May 3.

The pair, who became known as the "accidental millionaires", disappeared with no word besides reports of spend-ups at Macau casinos.

The bank, left red-faced by the error, fired the teller responsible for misplacing the decimal point and has been working with authorities in China to recover some of the money.

Gao remains at large.