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Current as of 24/10/14 07:40PM NZST

Other family members join runaway millionaires on-the-run

A woman who has fled New Zealand with her boyfriend after they received a multimillion dollar bank credit also has her daughter and sister with her, it was revealed tonight.

Police said today they were seeking a couple over the taking of $3.8 million mistakenly credited by Westpac to a bank account.

They have not named the couple, widely believed to be Rotorua service station owner Leo Gao and his girlfriend Kara Young.

TV3's Campbell Live revealed tonight Ms Young's daughter Lena and sister Aroha were with her.

Ms Young's mother, Suzanne Hurring, told the channel it was hard to believe what had happened, describing her daughter as "beautiful and honest."

" This was the crazy thing, she has never pinched a thing in her life - probably as a little girl, yes - but she is so honest, so honest."

As for Mr Gao, she said she would "like to wring his blimmin' neck."

Westpac said today it was "vigorously" attempting to get back the $3.8 million.

The bank has not identified the account holder, but said the person had in place a temporary overdraft facility with a limit up to $100,000.

"It sought to formalise that limit, at which stage an error occurred, the consequence of which was opening up that limit to $10 million."

The customer then attempted to transfer amounts totalling around $6.7m, but the bank has managed to recover $2.8m.

"Westpac is continuing to vigorously pursue the outstanding amount of $3.8m," it said today.

Records list Mr Gao, along with Huan Di Zhang, as the owners of the service station known as BP Barnett. It was placed in receivership this month.

The money was believed to be in the account on or about May 5 but it was only on Wednesday this week that police publicly said they were investigating.

Police, who are refusing to confirm speculation over the case, said today those being sought were believed to have travelled to Hong Kong.

International police liaison organisation Interpol had been called to help find them.

Inquiries to find those involved were continuing through Interpol and official channels in Beijing, police said.

The Herald understands that Westpac had hired a private investigator, Mike Dingwall, to conduct inquiries.

Mr Dingwall reportedly told staff of a nearby business he had proof Mr Gao had left the country and that records showed Ms Yang had used his credit card in Auckland on May 6.

"That's the reason they thought she was involved ... because she had tried to use Leo's credit card," said Chevi Lambert, manager of Andy's Cellar.

Westpac said the blunder was put down to human error and did not directly involve its Rotorua branch.

It said it had "taken and continues to take all necessary steps to prevent a mistake such as this happening again".

TV3 said Mr Gao had not paid a Rotorua building company he owed $30,000, while other creditors also remained unpaid.

- NZPA

- NZ Herald

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