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Anna Leask

Anna Leask is senior police reporter for the New Zealand Herald.

Westpac runaway had baby overseas

Kara Hurring. Photo / APN
Kara Hurring. Photo / APN

Police have laid new "significant" international money laundering charges against Kara Hurring after dropping other criminal charges.

And it has been revealed that the 32-year-old gave birth to a baby boy while in China, and was forced to return home due to passport issues.

Hurring, 32, fled New Zealand in April 2009 after a $10 million overdraft facility was mistakenly loaded by Westpac into her partner Hui "Leo" Gao's account.

A total of $6.78 million was allegedly transferred into other accounts before he and Hurring left for Hong Kong, police said.

Hurring was originally charged with theft and money laundering when she arrived back in New Zealand in December 2010, before the case was referred to the Crown Solicitor.

TV3 reported last night that Hurring and Gao conceived their son after fleeing New Zealand.

The baby boy was born there but Hurring brought him back here when she was forced to leave China due to an issue with her passport.

It is understood her passport may have been frozen, meaning she had to apply for a special travel document to return to New Zealand. That application alerted authorities, who picked her and the baby up when they landed at Auckland International Airport.

But when she reappeared in the Rotorua District Court yesterday, the original charges were dropped and replaced by fresh charges, including two of international money laundering to the value of more than HK$1.5 million [$230,000] relating to activities in Macau. A further 26 charges of theft to the value of approximately $11,000 were also laid, as well as two counts of attempting to use a document.

While the original charges were removed, Detective Senior Sergeant Mark Loper said the new ones were still considered serious, and now included an international element.

"This case has been treated seriously by police since the beginning.

"There is still a lot of work going on behind the scenes, but for obvious reasons, we are not in a position to be able to discuss that. Having said that, we are still actively seeking Mr Gao in relation to the theft of $6,782,000."

Hurring's alleged co-offender Gao was the holder of the business account the $10 million was deposited into. The latest charges do not include him.

In court yesterday, Hurring's lawyer, Simon Lance, told Judge Chris McGuire he would be making an application to have all the charges dismissed. Alternatively they would be strenuously defended.

He said Hurring was anxious to return to Hong Kong where her 7-year-old daughter remained and where she had a job.

Judge McGuire adjourned the matter until August 24.

- additional reporting NZPA

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