A district court judge has warned a Tauranga couple who laundered nearly $1 million in proceeds from a synthetic cannabis supply ring they are likely to get prison terms.
Hira Noble, 51, and his wife Luana, 47, pleaded guilty in Tauranga District Court on January 21 to a representative charge each of engaging in money laundering.
The maximum penalty is seven years' prison. Both have been remanded on bail for sentencing on March 7.
Hira Noble earlier admitted further charges of selling and/or supplying a non-approved psychoactive substance to others.
The couple's charges stemmed from offending committed between November 2015 and April 2018.
The Crown says on March 15, 2018, police launched an investigation named Operation Fauna which targeted a criminal syndicate led by Hira Noble.
Inquiries established the syndicate produced, supplied and sold synthetic cannabis and laundered the cash proceeds.
The Crown the investigation team quickly realised that Hira Noble was the central figure in the network, which included his wife and others.
The network spread from Auckland to Wellington supplying wholesale amounts of "synthetic cannabis", which were weighed and bagged for sale on the streets, the summary of facts said.
Both defendants owned D'Lish Hangis, which was a small takeaways restaurant and food business selling hangi food and pies.
In 2014 they formed D'Lish Ltd. Luana was the sole director of D'Lish Group Ltd and D'Lish Finance Group Ltd. She incorporated those businesses in 2015. Hira Noble is no longer a director of D'Lish Ltd.
A police forensic accountant examined the couple's financial records and 19 bank accounts either in their names or under their control plus accounts in another man's name.
The accountant found that between November 2015 and April 2018, the Nobles had access to unidentified sums of cash of no less than $940,000.
The Crown says the cash was not from sales of hangi food but was proceeds of sales of psychoactive substances laundered through their business and personal accounts.
Financial records also found that between March 15 and April 24, 2018, Hira Noble, with another male defendant sold non-approved psychoactive products on 33 occasions.
Hira Noble also sold it on three occasions by himself.
During the same period, Hira Noble and a male co-offender supplied about 3.6kg of the illegal product to "synnie" houses, which in turn were onsold to members of the public.
This equated to $45,000 of sales at a street level, the summary said.
Hira also bought 5kg of Damiana - a plant material used as a base to produce synthetic cannabis - from a local business and delivered it to another defendant.
On April 24, 2018, police searched Noble's property and found plastic bags containing plant material.
Police also found two barrels buried near their property. Inside one was a sawn-off shotgun, 21 rounds of ammunition and multiple bags of plant material. Inside the second barrel was also a large amount of plant material.
The total weight of the psychoactive substance in the barrels was 10.881kg which included 801 packets of ready-made for sale.
The Crown opposed bail for both defendants.
Luana Noble's lawyer Viv Winiata asked for his client to be sentenced on January 21, but Judge Thomas Ingram said it made sense to sentence her and her husband together.
Hira Noble's lawyer Bill Nabney agreed.
Nabney urged Judge Ingram to grant his client bail to enable him more time to arrange his affairs and obtain supporting documents to present to the court in mitigation.
Judge Ingram said he was satisfied he could trust the Nobles to abide by their bail conditions and further remanded them on bail for sentencing on March 7.
The judge called for pre-sentence reports including home detention appendices but told the Nobles that the likely outcome would be prison sentences.
Hira Noble, whose Hummer truck, motorcycle and Gate Pa home were earlier restrained by the police under the Criminal Proceeds Recovery Act has challenged the seizures.
A separate hearing about it has not yet been set down.