A bankrupt gold trader being investigated for allegations he ripped off clients in a $100,000 fraud has fled New Zealand, police say.
Christopher Michael Heaps, 28, is being investigated by Canterbury police for five alleged frauds over his online precious metals trading site, Kiwi Bullion.
Detective Sergeant Ross Tarawhiti said police had received complaints from five people who say Heaps had conned them out of more than $100,000.
The alleged victims, who are spread across New Zealand, say they paid money or precious metals to Heaps, who is a discharged bankrupt with drug and firearms convictions, but got nothing in return.
Heaps has then made "various excuses" for not delivering, Tarawhiti said.
Police say Heaps left New Zealand for Vietnam on July 28.
"I'm trying to locate him now. We don't interview people on the telephone and I look forward to him arriving back in New Zealand to speak to us," Tarawhiti said.
Heaps was due to appear at Christchurch District Court last week on a charge of aggravated disqualified driving.
However, he failed to show and a warrant has since been issued for his arrest.
Heaps had been a registered licensed real estate agent working for Phoenix Real Estate Ltd, part of the Riccarton branch of Harcourts.
Harcourts today confirmed that they have since terminated Heaps' contract.
Riccarton franchise partner Bruce Lindsay said he was unavailable for comment today.
"With the Christopher Heaps case in the hands of the police, it would be inappropriate for anyone from Harcourts to comment further," a spokeswoman said.
Heaps was declared bankrupt in March 2009 after the business he then ran, Christopher Heaps Contracting Ltd, was removed from the Companies Office register.
Heaps, from Canterbury, also has convictions relating to the cultivation of cannabis, as well as possession of methamphetamine and unlawful possession of firearms.
The Kiwi Bullion website, which claimed it was "best value and easiest for re-sale", has since been taken down.