Accused's wife tells of spending

By Edward Gay

Caroline Wood, the wife of alleged conman Loizos Michaels, arrives at the Auckland District Court to give evidence for the Crown.  Photo / Brett Phibbs
Caroline Wood, the wife of alleged conman Loizos Michaels, arrives at the Auckland District Court to give evidence for the Crown. Photo / Brett Phibbs

The wife of an alleged conman says she has been declared bankrupt and lost three family homes after her husband ran up massive debts in her name.

Caroline Wood gave her estranged husband a strained smile as she took her seat in the witness box at the Auckland District Court before giving evidence today.

Her husband of eight years, Loizos Michaels, has denied 31 Serious Fraud Office charges of deception connected to $3 million of fraud allegations.

Ms Wood said Michaels told her he was the heir to a shipping line fortune and would receive shares in his late father's company.

The couple married in 2004 and moved to New Zealand two years later to be closer to Ms Wood's terminally ill mother.

But once Michaels arrived, he spent a lot of time away from home.

"I was quite amazed at how quickly he seemed to be meeting people and was off and about," Ms Wood said.

She and Michaels started a business called Trades R Us Limited with her named as the listed director.

The business was designed as a one-stop contracting company for people wanting builders, electricians, plumbers, pool cleaners and dog walkers.

She said she tried to contract out work, but Michaels employed people.

"My role was to try to keep him reined in while he went around and gabbed to everyone."

She said thousands of dollars of debt was run up in her name.

"It started off okay with bills being paid and some jobs on but then it just snowballed ... the amount of money being run up."

She was asked by Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon SC what her credit was like now.

Ms Wood replied: "It's shot. I'm bankrupt now ... My son and I lost our home. It went to mortgagee sale. We've basically been grovelling around for the last couple of years."

She said she and Michaels bought three homes and all three went to mortgagee sale in February 2009.

But Ms Wood said before they lost their home, Michaels had "his fingers in a lot of pies".

She recalled one day when Michaels came home and announced he had bought a restaurant.

"My mum and I laughed and said he was mad."

But Michaels went ahead and bought it. Ms Woods said she was made a director and tried to keep the business - Plato's - in the black as tradesmen from the Trades R Us company renovated the Ponsonby site.

"There were all these half-pie builders and painters rorting the system ... It was just spiralling out of control."

She said Michaels talked of taking over the SkyCity casino, starting a casino and polo field in Macau and helping "bigwigs" buy luxury apartments on the shore of Lake Taupo.

She described her husband as a "compulsive gambler" and said she often heard pokie machine noises in the background when he phoned her.

"Wherever there was a casino in the country, he would have visited."

The trial is in its fifth week and is scheduled to end next month.

- APNZ

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