Convicted conman could be extradited

By Edward Gay

Loizos Michaels has been found guilty of 30 deception charges. Photo /  Chris Gorman
Loizos Michaels has been found guilty of 30 deception charges. Photo / Chris Gorman

Australian authorities will get the full cooperation of New Zealand investigators if they choose to extradite the conman convicted of a $3 million fraud.

Loizos Michaels was found guilty of 30 deception charges at the Auckland District Court today.

The court heard from 50 Crown witnesses who detailed a series of schemes by Michaels that included a takeover of SkyCity Casino, a second casino at Gulf Harbour, north of Auckland, and an online casino.

Witnesses from Australia also talked of losing thousands of dollars in a film studio on the Gold Coast.

Serious Fraud Office (SFO) acting chief executive Simon McArley said New Zealand authorities received the assistance of Australian investigators when Michaels skipped bail and went on the run in Australia two years ago.

Australian police also tracked down Michaels' victims on the Sunshine Coast.

Asked if there were any plans to send Michaels to Australia to face charges there, Mr McArley said the SFO would reciprocate.

"If they do ask, then we would be more than happy to help.''

Mr McArley said the investigation into Michaels in New Zealand took three years, at a significant cost to the taxpayer.

During the eight-week trial at the Auckland District Court, Michaels took aim at several of the Crown witnesses, including the SFO, who he alleged had somehow doctored witnesses.

Michaels' evidence was dismissed by Judge Christopher Field today as being "completely incredible'' and he gave it no weight at all.

Mr McArley said he didn't want to comment on Michaels' attack, except to say that he found it "interesting'' that none of Michaels' accusations were put to the SFO staff members or other witnesses when they gave evidence.

Mr McArley said the SFO is yet to consider its sentencing submissions, but he believed a jail sentence was certain.

He said Michaels' offending was not on the scale of the large finance companies such as Bridgecorp and Capitol+Merchant.

"While it is obviously important to address people like Michaels and ensure that they are out of our business community, there are much more serious ones who are probably not so colourful but who can cause immense damage on a larger scale.''

He said investors needed to do their homework on people and companies before they put their money in.

But he said the victims cannot be blamed for Michaels' lies.

"The people who were Michaels' victims didn't have the information that we have, and they didn't have it laid out like we have.''

- APNZ

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