Fraudster stole $730,000, blew it on holidays, cars and casinos

By Philip Somerville

A former Wanaka Lakes Health Centre manager convicted of stealing $730,000 had similar previous offending, Judge Christina Cook said yesterday.

Judge Cook, in the Queenstown District Court, said the charges against Richard Gregory Beven, 41, were "extremely serious" and Beven had similar offending stemming from 2005.

Beven, according to the 2005 Serious Fraud Office annual report, had worked for a motorvehicle finance company and used settlement authorities for fictitious or historical purchases and paid about $1 million into his own account.

Richard Beven
Richard Beven

He admitted defrauding his employer and was sentenced to three years' jail.

The Office report does not say where the offending took place or for what company Beven had worked.

The court yesterday heard Beven, of Wanaka, splashed the cash from his Wanaka theft on international travel, cars, casinos and a 40th birthday party for himself at exclusive Queenstown golf club The Hills.

He was convicted at the court yesterday morning after admitting theft in a special relationship from operating company Wanacare Limited and false accounting.

Beven denied another charge of theft in special relationship, of stealing $57,194 from a Primary Health Organisation through his company Lakes After Hours. He elected a judge alone trial on that matter.

Prosecuting Sergeant Ian Collin said Beven transferred $670,713 from the Wanacare Ltd accounts to his own personal bank accounts via the internet between August 2011 and October 2015.

He also paid himself a full gross wage and diverted additional funds to ensure PAYE Tax was paid to Inland Revenue on his declared income. That resulted in a further loss to the company of $59,803.

Sgt Collin said: "Initial analysis of the defendant's bank accounts indicates a high level of spending on lifestyle, including travel both international and domestic, regularly purchasing meals, going to bars and spending at bottle stores, spending at casinos.

"The funds have been used to pay off credit cards, pay rents for himself and his family members, paying leasing and financing on vehicles."

Sgt Collin said in September 2014 Beven spent $23,628 at The Hills golf resort to fund a 40th birthday party for himself and his identical twin brother.

He invited people from the medical centres he worked with, including victims of the theft, saying that his brother, a successful lawyer from Australia, was funding the event, Sgt Collin said.

Beven also bought and sold $388,522 worth of shares between March 2012 and 2015.
"The manner of these transactions indicates they were undertaken to hide the origin of the funds."

At times, there was insufficient funds in the Wanacare account to pay outstanding debts.
Knowing that failing to pay these debts would expose his offending, he re-applied $167,392 from his own accounts. Therefore, the total loss to Wanacare was $563,125. It has also spent $39,385 on accounting and general costs to find out what Beven stole and sort out "the mess".

Judge Cook said in her view "a period of imprisonment must really be the only outcome in front of the court".

She agreed to grant Beven bail to enable him to attend an appointment on Wednesday, and ordered him to surrender himself to Milton Prison no later than 5pm that day at which point he would be remanded in custody.

She ordered a presentence report and referred Beven to restorative justice ahead of his sentencing on October 17.

A case review hearing will be heard on August 23 over the charge he denies.

Wanacare Limited was established when a group of medical professionals built a large facility housing Wanaka's two main medical practices, along with physiotherapists, a pharmacist and an optometrist.

Beven was appointed general manager after being project manager for the building. The three Wanacare Ltd directors, Simon Brebner, Andrew McLeod and Virginia Rutledge, said in a statement yesterday they were pleased to see a conclusion to "this unfortunate episode".

The centre's new manager is Heather McClintock.

- Otago Daily Times

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