Kiwi fraudster a 'naughty boy': family

Hohepa Morehu-Barlow. Photo / Supplied
Hohepa Morehu-Barlow. Photo / Supplied

The New Zealand family of a public servant who allegedly siphoned $16 million off Queensland Health is standing by him.

Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel or Joseph Barlow, is wanted for questioning about the alleged transfer of millions of dollars from Queensland Health into private accounts.

The 36-year-old was the manager of the finance division of the Community Services Branch at Queensland Health.

Morehu-Barlow grew up in Thames in the Coromandel Peninsula where he still has family, and also studied at Victoria University.

He's understood to have moved to Australia in the past 10 years.

His aunt Josie Boldy told the Sunday News the family wasn't aware of the alleged offending.

"He's a naughty boy if he's done that but he's still my whanau (family),'' she said.

Ms Boldy said Morehu-Barlow used interchangeable names as a child, with Hohepa the Maori translation of Joseph.

A friend of Morehu-Barlow's, fashion designer Marc Adamson, told the newspaper he was shocked by the news.

"Joel was very kind as a mate. He was always the life of the party [but] I always knew something was not right,'' he said.

"Last time I saw Joel he said he was moving to Paris.''

Morehu-Barlow is reported to have been well-known in Brisbane society and is alleged to have claimed royal connections in Maori and Tahitian society - a claim Mr Adamson said he had heard.

Australian police, who began searching for Morehu-Barlow on Thursday night, have notified all major ports nationwide and frozen his assets.

A total of $16 million has allegedly been siphoned off over the past two to three years, with one payment of $11 million made in the past fortnight.

Queensland Premier Anna Bligh has appealed for public support in the manhunt.

New Zealand police have not yet been asked for assistance in the investigation, a spokeswoman told AAP.

- AAP

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