New indictments have been laid against 32 year old Kara Hurring in relation to the theft of $6,782,000 from Westpac bank in April 2009.
Ms Hurring was initially charged with theft and money laundering when she arrived back in New Zealand in December 2010, and the case was referred to the Crown Solicitors Office for indictments to be laid. In her reappearance in court this morning, the original charges have been withdrawn and new indictments laid.
The new indictments include 26 counts of theft to the value of approximately $11,000, two counts of attempting to use a document, and two charges of international money laundering to the value of more than HK$1.5 million relating to activities in Macau.
The officer in charge of the original investigation, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper, says that while the original charges have been removed, the indictments laid today remain very serious, and now also include an international element.
"This case has been treated seriously by Police since the beginning. It was an active investigation leading up to Ms Hurring's arrest in December, and it remains very much so.
"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.
"Equally, Police are mindful that Ms Hurring's charges are before the court, so we are not able to discuss the details relating to the indictments laid today.
"What we can say is that 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.
"The investigation has been – and will continue to be – very complex, due to the fact that it is a trans-national investigation, but we remain committed to ensuring that those responsible are held to account for their actions."
The alleged offence occurred when a $10 million overdraft facility was mistakenly loaded into the business account of Hui (Leo) Gao. It is alleged that Gao and Ms Hurring transferred $6,782,000 of the money into other accounts, and then both left New Zealand for Hong Kong – Gao on 29 April and Ms Hurring on 3 May. The error was discovered on 5 May, with approximately half of the money recovered from New Zealand accounts, leaving an outstanding sum of $3,872,000 unrecovered.
Charges were laid in the Rotorua District Court in February 2010 and warrants were subsequently issued for the pair's arrest. Ms Hurring was met by members of Rotorua Police when she entered New Zealand in December 2010, and was subsequently arrested on those outstanding warrants.