SkyCity takeover plans detailed in fraud case

By Edward Gay

Loizos Michaels. Photo / Greg Bowker
Loizos Michaels. Photo / Greg Bowker

The former chief executive of Christchurch Casino had plans to take over SkyCity with backing from his friend, National Party president Peter Goodfellow, says an alleged conman.

Loizos Michaels continued giving evidence yesterday in his own defence at the Auckland District Court, where he faces 31 deception charges in relation to an alleged $3 million fraud.

Under cross-examination from Crown prosecutor Christine Gordon SC, Michaels told the court that he met Christchurch Casino chief executive Stephen Lyttelton after complaining that casino staff were unable to make him his favourite macchiato espresso.

He said Lyttelton bothered him, but they eventually became friends. "It wasn't love at first sight".

Michaels said Lyttelton later came up to Auckland and developed plans to takeover Sky CIty Casino.

Gordon asked how he could possibly do that.

Michaels responded: "He has powerful friends who have a lot of money."

He later said Goodfellow was Lyttelton's "main contact".

"That's what Mr Lyttelton told me, that Goodfellow is the person who can carry it through. Once the casino was in a position where it was weak, Goodfellow was the person to take it over," Michaels said.

Gordon asked why the court was hearing that evidence for the first time, seven weeks into the trial. She also pointed out that Michaels' allegation had never been put to Goodfellow when he gave evidence.

Gordon said various Crown witnesses, including Goodfellow and Lyttelton, as well as Michaels' own brother-in-law had given evidence to say that Michaels talked of taking over SkyCity.

Gordon continued: "I put it to you that you told various people words to the effect that you were involved in the SkyCity takeover and [casino giant] Melco was behind it."

Michaels denied it.

The theme of coincidences has pervaded Gordon's cross-examination.

She also quizzed Michaels on why a string of Crown witnesses said Michaels told them about family ties to a Cyprus shipping company, including his ex-wife and the mother of his son.

The Crown says Michaels told the story to people, including his ex-wife Caroline Woods, to make him appear to be a man of wealth.

But Michaels said they are all wrong.

"I'm proud of my family, but as they are, not the money they have."

Asked by Gordon, how even his ex-wife could have made a mistake, Michaels said he felt sorry for her.

"She's got drug and alcohol problems. I didn't want her to get angry and go home and take it out on my son."

He began speaking about the questions that he told his lawyer Peter Kaye to ask Woods, but was stopped by Judge Christopher Field.

Judge FIeld said the information was subject to client-lawyer privilege and he did not have to talk about it. Michaels said he would waive that right.

"Mr Kaye asked certain questions and I instructed him not to make her upset. I instructed him to ask her four questions and let her go," Michaels said.

Michaels said other witnesses got it wrong because they had been reading blogs and the media, and others were lying or simply mistaken.

The trial continues.

- APNZ

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