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Current as of 02/10/14 05:00AM NZST

Westpac runaway returns to NZ, arrested

Kara Hurring and her daughter Leena. Photo / Supplied
Kara Hurring and her daughter Leena. Photo / Supplied

A woman who allegedly left New Zealand with her Chinese partner when Westpac mistakenly put $10 million into his account in 2009 has been arrested at Auckland International Airport.

Kara Hurring was arrested by Rotorua police her arrival this morning and has since appeared in Manukau District Court.

Hurring was bailed to an Auckland address and will appear in Rotorua District Court on March 10.

Police say Hurring's partner Leo Gao had a $10 million overdraft facility mistakenly loaded into his business account in April 2009. Gao had asked for a $100,000 overdraft to shore up his ailing service station business in Rotorua.

They transferred $6.78 million into other accounts and then left for Hong Kong, Gao on April 29 and Hurring on May 3. The error was discovered on May 5.

About half the money was recovered, but $3,872,000 was still outstanding, police said.

Police investigation head detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper said today the investigation remained active over the past 20 months.

"While she has returned to New Zealand voluntarily - and she should be commended for having done so -
her move has been prompted by police activity," Mr Loper said.

"Obviously this is an extremely positive development in the case, however, the investigation is by no means over. Our focus remains on eventually being able to speak to Leo Gao on this matter."

It was reported last year that Hurring and Gao had separated soon after they arrived in China, and Gao left her with little money.

Mr Loper said the investigation has been complex due to its trans-national nature.

"New Zealand police have been working with law enforcement authorities in Hong Kong and mainland China throughout, and we will continue to do so.

"We are appreciative of the support they have given to the investigation within the constraint of their own laws and we continue to have regular interactions as the investigation progresses," he said.

"At the same time, we have been working with many of New Zealand's different Government agencies on the investigation and we are grateful for their support to date. We will continue to work with them in the future."

Among the difficulties has been the fact that New Zealand has no extradition treaty with China.

In October last year, the Herald on Sunday reported a banking source close to the investigation saying that Hurring had been seeking a way to safely return to New Zealand "for some time". However, police "weren't prepared to do a deal"and Hurring will face the reality of returning to criminal charges.

The paper reported that returning had been forced upon Kara because she was unable to lean on Gao for support. The couple separated shortly after arriving in China through Hong Kong and Macau.

- NZPA, NZ Herald staff

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