Fraudster's wife wins ASB payout

By David Fisher

Stephen Versalko. Photo / Dean Purcell
Stephen Versalko. Photo / Dean Purcell

The wife of convicted fraudster Stephen Versalko - who stole almost $18 million from ASB - has won a big payout from the bank her husband ripped off.

Megan Versalko received the six-figure payout after arguing she was entitled to the proceeds of the marriage up to the point at which her husband began stealing. She has now started a new life with a new partner.

Versalko was sent to prison in 2010 for six years after admitting stealing $17.8 million from wealthy clients while working as an investment adviser at the ASB's Remuera branch. It is still the biggest case of employee theft in New Zealand.

After Versalko's conviction, the ASB pursued a claim against him for as much money as it could recover. He was bankrupted in October 2011.

At the time of his arrest, Megan Versalko was a qualified primary teacher who didn't need to work. The couple had married in 1984 and gone on to have three children, now adults.

It emerged Versalko had spent the stolen money on prostitutes, fine wine and real estate he couldn't afford, including their Remuera home and Coromandel Peninsula holiday house.

Documents were filed with Land Information New Zealand shortly after Versalko's arrest to alert the ASB to Mrs Versalko's claim.

Mrs Versalko refused to talk about the deal, which led to her buying her own home on Auckland's North Shore. It's understood she agreed to a confidentiality clause as part of her settlement with the bank.

The Herald was told she met a tradesman in connection with the new home and they had struck up a friendship. She was no longer in a marital relationship with Versalko.

Mrs Versalko had also focused on her professional career, developing teaching qualifications she had held at the time of Versalko's arrest.

Otago University law professor Nicola Peart said Versalko wouldn't have been allowed to profit from the proceeds of crime. But Mrs Versalko would have been entitled to her share of any funds not considered "tainted".

"From the moment he started to steal, she wouldn't have been able to claim any property that was in any way connected to his criminal behaviour." But Mrs Versalko would be entitled to her share of the marriage up to point at which the criminal offending began.

Versalko was last known to be serving his time at the minimum security prison at Rangipo near Turangi.

An inmate who had served time with him told the Weekend Herald in 2010 of Versalko's desire to cut a deal with the ASB which would allow a payout to his family.

He had talked in prison about doing a deal which would bind him to secrecy in return for his family being supported.

It was understood the arrangement with Mrs Versalko was separate from his prison discussions.

The bank had previously cut a deal with one of the escorts paid $2.55 million by Versalko. Its settlement with the escort also included a confidentiality clause.

A spokeswoman for the ASB said the bank would make no comment on the case.

- NZ Herald

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