Swann freed, but where is he?

By Hamish McNeilly, Rosie Manins

Convicted fraudster Michael Swann. Photo / APN
Convicted fraudster Michael Swann. Photo / APN

Fraudster Michael Swann was released from prison on parole yesterday, but his whereabouts remained unknown last night.

Under his parole conditions, Swann, 51, was ordered to live with Christchurch businessman Alasdair Cassels.

He told the Otago Daily Times yesterday he had not yet seen Swann but had spoken to him by phone.

He said he was unsure whether Swann would be living with him.

"I don't know. Chances are he probably will, but he may not."

Last night, a Department of Corrections spokeswoman said: "Corrections is managing this offender in accordance with his release conditions".

One of those conditions was for Swann to reside only at an approved address - Mr Cassels' Governors Bay property. The property has a rateable value of about $1.35 million.

To live elsewhere, Swann requires the written approval of his probation officer.

Mr Cassels, whose business interests include The Cassels and Sons Brewery, said he believed Swann had been told "he can't talk to anyone at the moment".

"I think the Parole Board were pretty concerned about his media attention. I think there was too much fuss around him."

Mr Cassels said he had advised Swann to talk to the media as that was the best way to "get rid" of media attention.

"But he is not really in a position to do that, I don't think."

Swann, wearing sunglasses and what appeared to be the same brown jersey he wore at his parole hearing, left Christchurch Men's Prison about 9am yesterday.

An earlier request to take photographs in the prison car park was declined by the prison manager.

Swann was driven from the prison by Harold Cave, his parole support person and future employer, in the latter's Audi car.

Mr Cave, who appeared at Swann's parole hearing in June, declined to talk about Swann when contacted yesterday afternoon.

Swann is expected to work at Mr Cave's Christchurch-based bio-tech company.

At the June parole hearing, Mr Cave told the board "I am really looking forward to working with him".

Swann remains subject to a $6 million pecuniary order.

Crown counsel Marie Grills, of Dunedin, said a "number of items" identified as having been bought by Swann had still not been located.

If those items were found, they would go towards the $6 million order.

Last month, an Official Information Act request by the ODT revealed three cars remained outstanding: a 1960 Mercedes Benz, a 1993 Mercedes and a 1974 Jaguar.

Mrs Grills said most information received concerning Swann was not specific enough, or had already been supplied, but police were continuing to assist with any leads - "I don't imagine that changing".

Despite Swann indicating on sentencing he would assist with the recovery of assets - and even signing an affidavit to that effect- the reality was he provided no assistance in locating known assets.

"I think in this case, and as unfortunate as it seems, there are people willing to help him."

The file remains open.

The Southern District Health Board declined to comment on Swann's release, after he served four years and eight months in jail for his involvement in defrauding the former Otago DHB of $16.9 million.

- Otago Daily Times

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