A failing business owner jailed after going on the run with his girlfriend when £5million was accidentally given to him by a bungling bank worker admitted he acted “like a d**k”.
Hui ‘Leo’ Gao and Kara Hurring fled New Zealand, leaving a cloud of dust behind them after a dozy bank clerk added a few zeros to what was supposed to be a £52,000 loan to prop up his wilting roadside garage business.
In April 2009, Gao applied for the overdraft for his garage in Rotorua, New Zealand with Westpac bank, before a former flatmate heard him celebrating.
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Bianca Taute said of the moment: “Gao was ecstatic, he jumped on the bed yelling ‘we’re f*****g rich’ and yahooing and woohooing."
Gao, who became known as the "accidental millionaire", had a £5.2 million overdraft limit placed on his account by the Wespac employee who was later fired for another mistake.
That started a process of the opportunist siphoning the cash into overseas accounts, before he fled to China himself.
Before sentencing, Gao's lawyer Ron Mansfield said his client could not resist the temptation.
"Your Honour, some say the greatest temptation was faced by Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden but these are modern times for a man trying to keep the doors of his small business open, $10m placed in his bank account was a very great temptation.''
A total of £3.57m was transferred. Some went through remittance companies to accounts in China and Hong Kong, some to accounts in the then 32-year-old's parent's names.
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Before fleeing New Zealand, Gao also transferred more than £182,000 to casino accounts in the Asian gambling capital of Macau.
His girlfriend opened a "player's account'' at the casino with her passport just days later.
A player's account' was opened in the name of Gao's father, Alex Wang, to the tune of £1.15m after that.
But the couple's disappearance attracted Interpol and other overseas agencies and Gao was arrested when crossing from mainland China to Hong Kong.
He was extradited back to New Zealand and Hurring, 33, was arrested when she re-entered the country also.
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The part time beautician who lived with her mum was found guilty of 25 counts of theft, three counts of attempting to dishonestly use a documents and two counts of money laundering. She served nine months home detention.
One of the charges related to a £7.37 McDonalds meal, her lawyer said, trying to prove she wasn't extravagant in her spending.
"She probably got a Big Mac Combo and a Happy Meal but no apple pie," he said.
Gao pleaded guilty to theft, admitting to the court he acted “like a d**k”.
He was released from prison in 2013 after serving 16 months behind bars.
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