Alleged conman's gang connection

By Edward Gay

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

A man alleged to be at the centre of a $3 million fraud made friends with the Hells Angels motorcycle gang after meeting them at a cafe, a court has been told.

Loizos Michaels ran his Greek restaurant on Auckland's Ponsonby Rd and met members of the gang at a cafe called Tiki Boys across the road, Auckland District Court was told today.

"We sort of became friendly ... when you see the same faces all the time ... We had things in common like children," said Michaels today.

He was asked by his lawyer Peter Kaye if the gang was welcome at Michaels' restaurant across the road.

"Everyone was welcome at Platos. I wasn't there to judge them."

Michaels is giving evidence in his own defence. He faces 31 deception charges relating to an alleged $3 million fraud.

Yesterday, he told the court how two senior National Party figures were involved in plans to apply for a casino licence, an alleged conman says.

Michaels said the chief executive of Christchurch Casino, Stephen Lyttelton, was disgruntled with his employer and planned to start an online gambling website, Aphrodite, in 2007. Michaels said part of the plan involved getting a casino license, and that is where National Party President Peter Goodfellow and Cabinet minister Gerry Brownlee came in.

"Peter Goodfellow and Gerry Brownlee would add their names to the application."

Michaels told the court the involvement of Mr Brownlee and Mr Goodfellow would allow Mr Lyttelton's company to raise the capital and credibility for the venture.

Michaels' evidence is in direct contrast to that of Mr Lyttelton who appeared at the start of the trial seven weeks ago.

Mr Lyttelton said Michaels talked of being backed by the high-powered Ho family, of Macau, who were looking to take over SkyCity.

Another project involved building a casino on the edge of a golf course at Gulf Harbour, north of Auckland.

Mr Lyttelton said he was lured away from his role at Christchurch Casino after promises from Michaels of a $1 million salary that quickly turned into $12 million.

He said he was also asked by Michaels to invest in the Ho family business to show his goodwill, and said he handed over hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash to Michaels and his associates.

But yesterday in court, Michaels denied ever receiving money from Mr Lyttelton or knowing anyone in the Ho family.

The trial continues.

- APNZ

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