$21m fraud case: assets frozen

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

The Queensland government has frozen paintings, a baby grand piano, jet skis, luxury cars and almost $4.5 million in cash from a Kiwi man accused of fleecing $16 million (NZ$21m) from Queensland Health.

The state government sought and was granted an emergency restraining order in the Supreme Court in Brisbane on Friday following advice from the Crime and Misconduct Commission (CMC) and police about the alleged theft.

Court documents reveal assets belonging to Hohepa Morehu-Barlow, also known as Joel Barlow, have been frozen until a further hearing early next year.

An affidavit filed by Detective Senior Sergeant Jason Gough outlines how he and other officers were called to the Queensland Health building in Charlotte Street last Thursday, where they met with the department's deputy director general of finance, Neil Castle.

Det Snr Sgt Gough says he was told by Mr Castle that a financial audit revealed an A$11 million lump sum had been transferred from the public purse on November 17 into a Commonwealth Bank account in the name of Healthy Choices and Initiatives.

That account belonged to Morehu-Barlow, court documents reveal.

"Castle advised that he had no knowledge and made no authorisation for such payment,'' Det Snr Sgt Gough's affidavit reveals.

A further affidavit from Angela Pyke, from the CMC's Proceeds of Crime unit, states that just $2.9 million remained in the account on December 9.

Court documents reveal Morehu-Barlow bought a A$135,000 Mercedes-Benz and two jet skis in the intervening period.

These are just some of the items under the restraining order.

The state has also seized a further A$1.55 million spread across eight bank accounts.

Morehu-Barlow spent Monday night in hospital after he was found semi-conscious at his luxury Brisbane unit earlier that day.

Police have advised Morehu-Barlow will be formally charged with fraud during a closed bedside hearing later on Tuesday.

- AAP

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